The week between Christmas and New Years is by far the most pensive week of the year. To be honest, this year has held 52 straight unusually pensive weeks for me, but this one still takes the cake at least as far as nostalgic ponderings go. I’m laying here in my old bedroom at home that I decorated in high school, looking around at heavily cluttered walls of the largely untouched shrine to the girl that I used to be.
The postcard collection lining the ceiling, that’s still me. Actually, looking around, most of these pieces individually are still very me, but it’s the antiquated bedroom collective that confuses me with its foreignness. The girl that cried sanctuary in these walls depended on such different things than I depend on now. Found solace in such different comforters and inspiration in such different muses.
A part of me is still here though, or it wouldn’t call so strongly to me from this ground to come back to it. I haven’t been back to this house in a year, but I’ve seen my family that lives here quite a bit in the interval, so I know that it isn’t just them calling me back. But I left a part of myself in Sandy, Utah when we moved from there, and I left a part of myself at BYU (though that one I hate to admit). I left a part of me in Edinburgh and in Mykonos and in Jerusalem. What strange creatures we humans are that trudge around this earth pursuing the kairos of our lives and leaving bits of ourselves behind and integrating bits of the places we love into ourselves. Perhaps we’ll never go back there, but the pieces will always call to us.
Those pieces of ourselves are a part of a time as much as they are a part of that place. We’ve had Christmas dinner with the same friends every year, and years ago they had a son home each year for Christmas who was single and handsome and charming. We’d annually flirt, knowing nothing would come of it, but feeling no shame in adding a little romance to the Christmas season. Now as we continue to go to that same house, for dinner and it continues to be my job to fill up the glasses, I am forced to face up to the pictures of him and his wife and (new this year) his baby boy, as I pray that the ice dispenser on the freezer would work a little faster and give me a change of scenery.
It isn’t that it’s painful per se. I’m happy for him and the life and contentment he is finding. It’s just that I thrive on the potential of things. My fuel in life is knowing that I can be anybody, go [leave bits-o-me] anywhere, but when I see boys that once gave me butterflies moving on to the next stage of life and continuing with a companion toward the eternities, I feel a little left-at-the-starting-gate.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m realizing with each Christmas that passes that though the world is still my oyster; by choosing certain things I’m un-choosing others. Not everything can continue to linger and have possibilities for me. Eventually I have to pick a path to be on and though there are still adventures to be had and new people to meet and lovely things to experience, I have to let certain things go.
I remember at the stake New Years dance once (I think I only made it to one of those), they put a countdown to midnight up on the scoreboard and as it began to tick down from ten, I suddenly felt panicked as I grabbed for those last moments of a year that was leaving me forever and I realized, with a pang of poignancy that they were literally seconds I would never get back again. That was five years ago. Maybe next time I think about it, it will have been twenty-five, but I’m determined to look forward to “further up and further in” rather then anxiously looking to rekindle further down and further out. Besides, what has down and out ever gotten anybody anyway?