Among other gifts which amazed me and did make me feel known and loved, Noah and I received FOUR blankets for Christmas: two beautiful crocheted blankets from his aunt, in light and dark browns and oranges; and two down-filled throws from my parents, one of which is also lined with long-pile fleece. Noah gave me new slippers among other things; they are amazing, with their nice tassels and rubber soles that keep me from slipping. I bought myself a new down vest a bit before the holidays; it also keeps me very warm.
This is all to say, I am warmer than last year. It involves a lot of blankets and down, but I am indeed warmer.
There's been knitting, editing, some consideration of possibly writing again, great joy in helping a dear friend settle into Seattle, much meditation on apartment-tinkering and furniture rearranging. A lot of cooking. Does anyone else cook between 6-10 servings of food three times in three days and then not cook for many days onward? I'm a little tired of the vaguely New Orleans-spiced Hoppin' John, but it's still here, and I have been eating it, along with the curried lentils with raisins and the garbanzo-potato-spinach soup thickened with tahini and cream. But I made a broccoli frittata yesterday ANYWAY, and a rosemary olive oil cake with dark chocolate bits today ANYWAY.
Also job searching, reflections on injury and pain levels (on that front: things are better than they were at the worst, but they are very much still nerve-damaged, nerve-impinged, inflamed, and muscle-weakened, and none of that seems to be changing of its own accord or of my own accord). For a while I had a bit more pain relief from a medication I was taking for post-shingles nerve pain, but that medication also gave me brain fog, typing errors, heavy distraction, and effectively cut my editing pages per hour rate in half. Working twice as slow is a different pain. The whole process made me very aware of how extremely detail-oriented and demanding developmental editing is--I love doing it, and my clients say I do it well, and I'm glad for that, but man, I didn't really understand how much of my focus it takes over. It takes it all over, because I'm simultaneously thinking about the word, the clause, the sentence, the paragraph, the section, the chapter, the whole manuscript, and the writer's stated goals, all at the same time. While copyediting as well. Self, I give you more credit than I used to. However, this is also why brain-fogging pain meds will never work for me.
In closing: I have been thinking very often of my friend Ryan, from college, who died suddenly this fall of a brain aneurysm. We hadn't been in touch for six years when he found me on Facebook in August and wrote me a quick note to say hi. We wrote back and forth a little; it was absolutely wonderful to be hearing from him, this person I'd been very close to a very long time ago. Then my grandmother died, and I went to St. Louis, and after a few weeks, I found out he had died. He died a week after he and I wrote each other for the last time. It's still shocking, the way it unfolded.
The highlight reel of our friendship goes like this: we meet the first day of college and proceed to begin scheduling classes together; he gets me to start listening to more bands than the Grateful Dead and Counting Crows; we give honest feedback on each other's writing; we start a knitting group with other mutual friends because we are first-year students and we are so cool that we make dinner and knit together in the dorm lounge on Saturday nights; I cut his hair a few times, and so begin my years of free, untrained haircuts for men; he loans me a suit and hat so I can cross-dress as James Joyce for a presentation in my modern lit class, complete with an eyeliner moustache; we go on a giant road trip with nine other people to Colorado for four and a half days in late February, two of which we spend driving nonstop, and at the end of the trip, we try to go through a car wash and get his convertible stuck spinning out in the Iowa snow for what seems like forever; we go see his friend's band the night of my great-grandmother's death, and I dance my heart out, because that's somehow the right thing to be doing, and he gets it; when I'm grieving for her hardcore and don't know what to do with myself, he convinces me to go on walks and drives in the Iowa hills; we dance a lot of swing together with friends; we fight; we grow apart; he tries to get us closer again, and I push him away for reasons I will always regret; I wake up to how dumb I've been and try to make it up to him, and he accepts, and we find a simple peace again; our college puts on The Laramie Project, and he acts in it--Westboro Baptist comes to our campus to protest, and our college stages a counter-protest, and it's touching but very anti-climactic--his acting is amazing, and I'm so proud of him, and he's so glad to see me there, and we're just two friends again, supporting each other's creative work with fervor. Then I graduate, and we go very separate directions, and I think of him and wish him well, and I look for him online sometimes, when I have this feeling that he's having trouble with drugs and booze again, and I never find him. And then he finds me. And then he dies.
A few days ago, I dreamed that he and I were hanging out in the present time, and he was laughing. Everything was great and happy. And then I woke up, and the rest of the day was very dark. Because it will never be like that, and the world is really missing out on this person with a great laugh and talent and kindness.
And so, dear readers, all of us flung far away from each other now, I wish you well, safe, healthy, happy. I wish I could be enjoying your company up close. If you've stuck with this blog through its droughts, there's a good chance I know exactly who you are, and so--know that I value you very much. I wish I could bake us all cookies and make tea and laugh together. I want you to feel loved by the world and to know the world needs you in it. I have a highlight reel for all of you, even if there are months or years of silence between us. You matter more than I can say.