In thinking about our last post of the year, we struggled a lot with how to characterize 2011.
On the one hand, we could simply title this post: "Good riddance crappy 2011, hello 2012!" The end of the year is a time to take stock as all the "Best albums/fashion/dirty politicians/etc. of 2011" lists in the media remind us, and the only thing we're taking stock of this year is that if we ever have to go through another year like this past one we'll never make it.
New York has a population of over 9 million yet the city can sometimes be one of the loneliest places in the world. It's not a city with a built-in community. You have to find your own community, your own niche, and in a city with so many things going on that is easier said than done. And, if like most New Yorkers, you work 50+ hours a week, you barely have enough energy to go on seamless web and order your dinner, much less try and go out and talk to your neighbor. It's a sad cliche in life that you learn who your real friends are (or aren't) during tough times, and this year sadly re-proved that to be true. So as we take stock of things we cannot elaborate on: the disappointments, multiple near-nervous breakdowns, and lost friendships, we pause to observe that living in a city of 9 million strangers doesn't necessarily help with that. When you struggle you struggle alone.
But nothing is entirely black and white so to say last year was "crap" and leave it at that would leave many other things unacknowledged. This was also the year of our first writing successes. The year mini learned how to ride a bike and tie her shoes. And while we had our backs turned it was also the year mini evolved from an innocent young person to a toothless and beautiful young girl, fully immersed in the journey that is middle childhood.
And the loneliness? Turns out that despite living amongst so many strangers, sometimes New York can also feel like a small town. The school mini attends? A brand new community for both her and her mother. The neighbor who was a stranger? A fellow alum from University. The lady at the haircut place who needed a door opened? A friend whose children went to school with your friend's child. The lady on the bus? A friend's mother. The runner you walked by on the street? Your child's piano teacher. The creepy stranger at the coffee shop? A friend of a friend from abroad. And so it continues...
So while we are tempted to talk about all the things we hated about 2011, the light at the end of the tunnel is but 12 hours away.
How will we begin 2012? Reminding ourselves that "hey, you still have your health" as we relish in the soreness that comes from celebrating our muscles in exercise class this week. Enjoying the peaceful feeling that accompanies watching a child sleep. Sipping champagne, surrounded by friends, hopefully dancing our @ss off. Feeling gratitude for both old friends that have been a part of our lives and new friends that have come into it. And excited about the adventure and possibilities that lie ahead in 2012.