January 1st disappoints me nearly every year. I expect to feel as if the past twelve months have fallen away and a new, joyous year has come to take its place. Instead, the day that dawns is just as cold and gray as the one before.
So I move too fast into the year ahead of me, searching for a diversion to take my mind off of the emptiness. I press the old year between pages in a notebook and put it on a shelf to deal with later.
Not this year, though. Before I get any farther into 2015, I want to remember what 2014 brought.
January hit me. Hard. With snow thick on the ground and borrowed shoes on my feet, I began training for a half marathon. In pre-dawn hours and on frozen afternoons, my legs carried me over ice and through wind that bit into every layer of my warmest clothing. At the same time I was discovering the strength my body possessed, I was learning the theories of the stars. Through a telescope on top of the old science building, I saw shadows dipping into the moon’s craters and ached to know the creator of it all.
In February, spring semester began. I softened the hard edges of the still-cold winter with journal-scribbled poetry
March and April were a blur of words. A small desk in the library became a home to me. Here I had a view of a tree with purple leaves; here I learned to pull apart literature; here I discovered the potent poetry of Margaret Atwood; here I wrote the first chapter of my very own book.
I woke up at 5 a.m. one morning in May to run 13.1 miles. My knees weren’t ready for the devastation that followed. The flights of stairs to my third-floor dorm room became my enemy but the medal hanging from my bedpost reminded me that the pain was worth something.
June was a plunge and July was sinking further into an internship with the National Park Service. I canoed a river that some days churned with tan bodies stretched out on rafts, some days dripped with silence and mystery. I saw deer crossing the river, raccoons waddling on the banks, turtles sunning themselves on rocks, snakes curving around the bow of my boat, otters slinking through the grass, bald eagles resting on cliff faces. I was amazed with the river’s wild tendencies and the fulfillment I was left with after days on the river or in the office.
In August I headed back to school and said the hardest goodbye of my life.
A new school year began in September. With candle light, feet washing, hymn singing, and a baptism of sorts, I helped welcome new women into my dorm during a weekend retreat to a lake house. It was a holy time. Later this month, I danced an Alice in Wonderland story with an adopted Airband group. I felt alive for those few minutes.
October was for travelling. I ventured to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to see my boyfriend’s new home. The forests glowed orange and yellow during my weekend stay. In Ohio I upgraded seats at a Bastille concert with some friends. I spent 11 hours in purposeful silence near an abbey in Kentucky.
The usual flurry of end of the year events came in November. Moments of chopping carrots, simmering a big pot of chicken noodle soup, basting my first turkey, and snuggling by a fire stand out as bright points in the otherwise gray, blurry month. December followed full of traveling, visiting families across the country, and snow falling.
Then one night, with a lump of cinnamon roll dough rising in the fridge, 2014 slipped into 2015.