01 January 2013

Letter No. 10

The other day, I realized that this is the longest I've been home in about two years. For the last two visits, I was here for just three to five days. This time, I'm home for ten.

I thought the fact that I took the briefness so well before meant that I'd adjusted to life away. But it turns out that the longer you stay, the longer you want to stay, and the more painful it is to think about leaving again.

Maybe it's just as well. It's a test of the heart, and it's been a while since I've thought seriously about what I want to do. I thought I'd been doing just that toward the end of the year, but somehow, sitting on top of the monkey bars and listening to the birds and the wind and the bugs sort of stretches out your vision, so you see more paths, and more branches to those paths, than you thought you had.

I can't help rethinking my childhood dreams whenever I'm here. More than ever, I see that I had no clue what getting those dreams entailed.

For some reason, I've been thinking about one of my classmates who seems to have settled here. I imagine her driving her truck to work past the pine trees, working in the same little hospital where we had our school physicals as kids, and maybe having dinner with her boyfriend (who works at the plant? in the next town?) before driving home to her family in the house where she grew up.

I know other classmates who've also stayed home and who also say that this makes them happy. And really, I can see why. It wasn't really that long ago that I wanted the same kind of life for myself, and the jungle gym alone is enough to remind me that some part of me never really stopped wanting.

Last year, one of my friends said something on Twitter about deciding what to leave behind and what to take with them into 2012. I actually thought it was silly; this person had a great life. But here, I can see that even a great life needs re-evaluation. That scares me.

I wrote the above two days ago, and it's now just 45 minutes into the new year. This year's celebrations are even more low-key than the last. At midnight, I kissed my parents and my lola to greet them Happy New Year, and then Cris called to greet me, too. All of my friends are gone for the holidays, so, with no one else to hang out with after the fireworks at the neighborhood party, I decided to go home.

The stars were out, and the wind was a little chilly, but I was warmed by thoughts of my family, friends, and Cris, even if they weren't with me. I walked under the trees and past the playground, and as if on cue, I looked up and saw a shooting star. When I got home, I let the dog in, made myself some hot chocolate, and knew that the feelings of the past several days were what I wanted to take into the new year.

I want to stay conscious of the way I relate to my family. I see them less and less every year, so every moment counts. I want less twinges of regret over something I said, however small, or the tone of my voice, and more certainty that I'm treating them the way they deserve.

I want the mixed rush and relaxation that comes from being outside — from spacing out on the monkey bars, taking a long walk around my tree-filled neighborhood, hiking across the pineapple fields and up and down gullies with my family, watching the clouds drift over the swaying trees as the sun sets, and finding that weird balance between calm and inspired twitchiness under the open sky. This is something that might be really hard to recreate in the city, but I'd really like to try.

I want more openness to doing things for other people, just because.

I'd like Cris to be able to share more of these things. Things have been going at a pretty comfortable pace, and for the most part, it feels like we're still getting to know each other. For the past few days, I've been getting back in touch with parts of myself that he's just begun to see, and I can't wait to bring him back with me later this year.

There's more, but it's now 2 in the morning, and I should get some sleep. For now, here's all hope for a happy new year.

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