Forgive my quoting what some claim to be the cheesiest band of all time, but I’ve liked Counting Crows since I was a kid. My dad had them mixed in on the long road trip play list, along with The Indigo Girls, Black Sabbath and Warren Zevon. I didn’t realize that was a rather odd mix until I was older, and I didn’t realize Counting Crows weren’t cool until it was too late. So when A Long December, their mournful ballad to a New Year, came on the Christmas station a few weeks ago, I didn’t change it.
And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
It felt fitting, the sense of melancholy, the regret for good times having slipped through your fingers, and the faint hope that maybe. maybe the next trip around the sun will be less painful.
Hold on to These Moments as They Pass
I was struck with a thought last night that left me unable to fall asleep. It was a simple thought: I’m 31 years old. I want to have kids at some point. But there were things I wanted to do before that happened. And I’ve lost a year. It was a silly, somewhat petty thought. After all, everyone has plans that change, everyone makes compromises, and they turn out fine. But some time around three am I felt robbed. I felt personally angry, as if this pandemic were a thing that God had done to me, in order to take away the few remaining years where I can pretend to be young.
But then another thought struck me, equally small. Once I have kids and I will never have this amount of quality time with my husband. When I shared this with him in the morning he laughed it off. It’s enough quality time to last a lifetime. But of course that isn’t true. There’s never enough time with your loved ones. That’s precisely what as made the last nine months hard: separation from others. It may be, in a year or two, if I’m chasing around a kid, rushing to and from rehearsal, and also trying to write, I will remember this time with a strange fondness. The time I stayed home with my husband for nine months. And we did, more or less, nothing.
Goodbye to a Long Year
The uncertainty of this year was challenging for me. At the beginning, like so many of us, I thought lockdown would last a couple weeks, a month at most. Two months felt unthinkable. Then the finish line began to move away from us, farther and farther. My best friend was married in July, an event I thought for certain would be unaffected by the pandemic. Obviously I was wrong. And then, for a time, it seemed like this might never end. That was the scariest time of all: when projections were looking at years rather than months. And then, finally, science came through.
Hello to a Slow Transition
While the end of 2020 feels monumental, nothing fundamentally is changing. We still have a long winter ahead of us. If there is any real difference, it’s one of hope. I hope that having a light at the end of the tunnel will give us the strength to behave responsibly. I also hope that this year encourages us to appreciate life a little more. 2021 doesn’t need to be “our year.” It doesn’t need to be “the best year ever,” or any of the other hyperbolic wishes we throw out on a typical December 31st.
It just needs to be more hopeful, healthier, and a little happier.
Have a happier New Year.