I've lived through 21 different New Year celebrations at the time of this writing (please don't check that math). I remember some of them, such as the near-zero temperatures in Tennessee that one year, or the year that the family huddled into the living room to watch a Red Box copy of Paranormal Activity. For me, New Year's is the last holiday for, well, the holidays, and then it's January, a stark month in contrast. Whereas December channels the heart of Winter to conjure heat and warmth, January is a cold, cold month; January is cold concrete and frozen bark. But in January's macabre somberness is the bitter opportunity for new beginnings and closed chapters. After weeks of holidays, closed offices, and ignored email notifications, the rest of the world swings along to remind you that it never really left. Chores must continue, bills must be paid, and there's work to be done.
2019 was like the night before an assignment is due. After years of delays, procrastination, and feedback-looped waiting, I got things done: I read the books I wanted to, I met the people I wanted to, and I did the things I didn't want to, such as installing a dryer cord or writing rent checks. Likewise, I continued the trends that I enjoyed from the previous year. Lucy the Yellow Lab, now a year old, still runs under underfoot, and I didn't ruin my first bid at full-time employment. And, from time to time, I occasionally learned something new, like Angular, a single-page web application framework, and the order in which one should manage his or her skincare routine. Of course, there are memories from this year that I'd rather not have, and certain mental habits still persist. Against the grain, however, I spy hints of improvement.
But 2019 is over, and so enters 2020. Some chapters must close for new stories to begin, and old habits die hard. Lucy will be 2 this year, my rent will probably go up, and my insecurities will persist. The future looks scary, and the bleakness of the month ahead doesn't help. But I've come too far to give up; there is still so much to do, and I have miles to go before I sleep. I'd like to close this post with an email from myself circa 2016:
You struggle greatly with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). You do 50 push-ups every night. Your fastest mile time is 7:40. You are 5'2". You weigh around 120 pounds ... You wish to pursue a degree in information technology from an in-state university ... You have a chocolate labrador
And still my labrador lives. What a symbol. Yes, there's the obvious implication: my dog, Charles, is still alive, although he could certainly benefit from a walk every now and then. However, there's an additional message of persistence in the face of the uncertain and familiarity in spite of the unknown. So much has changed, some for the better and some for the worse, but some of the most important variables have remained constant. I don't know what lies up ahead, that much is true, but I do know that I have friends, family, and a chocolate labrador to see me through. There's always someone worth fighting for.