Sitting on the window seat, treasuring the quiet that comes from being alone on the property and for seconds at a time letting myself believe I’m the only one awake in my neighborhood. Overhead a plane passes and then, louder, another: even this early on New Year’s Day someone is going somewhere. Blessedly though the usual freeway hum is nowhere to be heard. The rest of us can evidently wait a little longer.
Last night I stayed in reading vintage Stephen King and reviewing my paper journals from 2016, turning out the light around 11 and sleeping right through whatever noise The Town chose to greet this new year with. This was after barely going out all day, when I did assessing 20 minutes waiting in line for a carton of orange juice as the extent of time and effort I was willing to commit to NYE participation. Lake Merritt in the sunset was lovely; let that suffice.
This morning I feel like I haven’t slept so well in a week and probably longer. It’s a great way to start a year, especially when it follows one where for much of the time I felt like I simply couldn’t keep up. Re-reading my weekly notes I’m struck but not surprised at how often I wrote I was just too tired to do anything. While one from October reads that my vitality had definitely come back in the preceding months (“How to measure it though? By the fact that I’ve been keeping my living quarters neater?”), that was mostly forgotten by December. The second half of last month I again felt more and more like all I wanted to do was sleep or maybe if I was ambitious sit and read while my never-ending iTunes playlist provided a soothing soundtrack.
So last night that’s what I did. Today? Feeling better, good enough that now and then I’m breaking the silence with the 1997 Madison Square Garden video of Under Pressure with Gail Ann Dorsey taking Mercury’s part. I must have watched this clip 50 times in the month following David Bowie’s death and another 50 over the rest of the year and every time it brings tears. Every. Single. Fucking. Time. Last January after a year dealing with cancer I was overwhelmed with what Bowie calls the terror of knowing what this world is about, truly knowing it for the first time in my life and wanting to myself scream “Let me out” while silently praying that tomorrow would somehow take me higher. There were moments during that gray rainy month when the song seemed like all I had to hold on to.
But the terror didn’t abate on its own. Instead it mounted, deepening into a depression that by late April was so harsh I was in a firearms dealership pricing shotguns. That was the trigger (no pun intended) to decide enough was enough; shortly after that I started back on antidepressants and spent the rest of 2016 working on my breathing and relaxation, focusing on basic self-maintenance that would lead to eventual rebuilding. Things started to get better, much, and in the end I figure it was a pretty good year despite its rough start, despite the deaths and the election and the violence in the world beyond. Despite no work on my novel too.
I made the best of it. Let that suffice.
Today though I have invites to a couple of brunches I expect I’ll stay home reading more journals and maybe even cleaning house a bit. There will be time during the year for parties and being among people and finding ways to give love one more chance, and another and after that another. This morning I’m good with the quiet, with having just David and Gail and my own thoughts for company.
(Republished from my other blog, Walk Into The Sun.)