December 31st. New York Eve. New York City.
It was cold outside this morning. Maybe the coldest it has been all month so far. For the first time, I wore my new winter coat to work and the new winter accessories I spent way too much time picking out at Nordstrom Rack to match the coat, and I was unreasonably excited about this small detail. It's the little things, right?
We say that all the time. It's the little things. We don't even really think all that hard about what it means. But 2014 made me really see just how important those little things are. This was a hard year. One day soon I will tell the story of this year, and then you'll know. And I understand now that it was the little things, those small pleasures, that kept me moving forward when the whole year seemed designed to bring me to my knees, time after time.
Like ordering pizza and eating it in front of the TV. Or binge watching season 1 of The West Wing for the 47th time. Or my favorite romance novel of all time with the cover practically worn off from years re-reading. Or red nail polish. Or sitting outside in the summer time. Or eating dinner with my sister at 10:30 at night at my kitchen table. Or the fluffy purple bathrobe that was a gift from my best friend who loved hers so much that she got one for me too. Or meeting David in the city after work to go home together. Or a really good piece of candy. Or french fries. Or the first sips of my morning coffee outside, just as the sun comes up. Or wearing my brand new winter coat for the very first time.
It's these things that keep me - and, I suspect, many of you too - grounded in the here and now when our brains want to take off on a flight of what-ifs and worst case scenarios, or when we just want to curl up into a ball of self-pity and defeat. These are the things that make life sweet, even when life is being a big, fat bitch.
This morning, as is my habit, I left my house through the back door. For a minute I just stood on the deck. The sky was clear and the sun was rising. I saw the lovely older couple who lives next door through their kitchen window, making coffee and smiling at each other. My neighbors on the other side dragged their paper recycling to the curb and I thought how irritated they would be when they realized that paper recycling isn't being picked up today because of New Years. I thought of David, still sleeping upstairs, and my parents starting their day in Pittsburgh, and my sisters in Ohio making breakfast and chasing kids. And I looked at the house rising behind me - the one with the back yard we love and the snow shovel that lives on the front porch all year round - that was so strange and new when we first moved in but that now holds more than two years worth of memories things and clutter and all the things that mean home. And I remembered something that my sister said to me when we were talking on the phone yesterday: "This is the only life that we get." And she is so right.
This is it. These things and these moments that make up our days are all we get, and sometimes they're hard and there's not much we can do about that except make ourselves see the good and enjoy the little things and be thankful for them because those little things are what help us to keep swimming when the seas are choppy and the current threatens to pull us under.
Like a minute of quiet grace on a cold winter morning as the sun is rising.
If this past year has taught me anything, it's that this life that I am living is a good one. That I am lucky in my family and my friends and the place I have made my home. And I've learned that the knocks that I take and the ones that are still to come are part of my story and that they make me a more interesting and maybe even a more thoughtful person.
So here's to taking the bad with the good, to holding the people we love close to us, and to making the most of this one and only life.
Happy New Year.