We've had an unseasonably warm, dry winter so far in Ohio*-- sometimes our Novembers are covered in a foot of snow, sometimes our Decembers are slushy and permanently gray-- but my stay at my parents' house this season has been full of relatively nonchalant 40-something-degree weather. Considering this, it shouldn't have come as a shock to me when I stepped outside today at noon to bright, blinding sunshine and a jacket-free temperature. It made sense with the weather pattern, and it wasn't totally out of the blue, but I still found myself spreading my arms out in the wind, taking a huge breath, and feeling like, "Wow. Is this real life?"
My 2011 was a wonderful year full of opportunities and fun memories and love and personal growth and everything else it was supposed to be, right up until the very last two days. Then, in the middle of the night, I received a call that informed me of some deeply personal, deeply distressing news. It's not something I can-- or would-- disclose to the entire world, but I'm currently going through a small tragedy in my life.... For a while, I was tempted to ignore it in the areas of my life where that was possible, to pretend everything was fine online and to my casual friends, to compartmentalize. But then, this afternoon, I felt that sunshine.
It's really amazing how, when horrible news comes at you like a poison-coated butcher knife to the stomach, you can feel so immersed in sadness and worry that a year's worth of happiness can be wiped from your memory in one fluid motion. You're checked out, you're miserable, just gone for a day or two. The clock ticks passed midnight on December 31st, but nothing feels different at all. But the thing is, life moves on whether you're willing to participate or not. The old year ends and the new year starts and the clouds move in the sky and the sun comes out in the morning. I'm feeling low-- really, really low-- and that doesn't change just because I replaced my calendar-- but something about a warm, bright new day makes me feel like, I don't know... life will always continue to regenerate itself. Just like my bad news came out of nowhere amidst a previously great year, 50 degrees sometimes happens on January 1st. There's always hope, even when you're not looking for it.
*Bear with me here. I'm allowed to draw melodramatic symbolism from the weather once a year, and I'm getting it out of my system early on. (Creative Writing professors basically get paid their entire salary to slash out weather metaphors with red pen. And to quote a lot of dead people/sometimes wear berets.)