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Lara Eckener

Diorama of a woman exploding

Month

December 2017

There’s no place like here and now.

My loneliest New Years Eve on record was six or so years ago, spent with my then boyfriend in my apartment. Earlier in the day he had asked if we could go out to a club for the night (the first New Years he’d shown any interest in doing so), and I said yes, but when we compared our lists of parties at clubs that we were willing to go to none of them overlapped. I offered to compromise and pick one of his, but he just said to forget it. So we sat alone in my apartment, on the couch and then in bed. I don’t remember what he drank, but I drank a whole bottle of Rosa Regale on my own while wearing a t-shirt, work out shorts, and glittery gold flats because I needed some part of my New Years Eve to be fancy.

I have a very clear memory of perching on the edge of my bed, staring down at my sparkling shoes, and wondering if this would be our last New Years together. At the time I thought that would have been tragic, because we had had so much fun together over the long course of our relationship, that for it to fizzle to smoke that way would somehow render all of our previous romance somehow less true. It felt like it had been meant to spark and then flash out all along. At the time I believed in love that saw its way through everything and was desperately hoping that ours would. I still do believe in love like that, I just no longer believe that that was the kind of love we had. Not there at the end.

Anyway, I don’t actually remember if that was our last New Years together, or if there was one more after it, because I’m about as good at remembering timelines of events as I am at sleeping. That sadness has stayed with me though, that feeling of being all alone and untouchable–unworthy of touch–even though I was sitting next to the one person who was supposed to love me the most in the world. Was that a symptom of our deteriorating relationship or the cause? Did putting my fears into the universe make them real? Is it possible for me to project my way into misery?

My therapist has been trying to coax me into a mindfulness practice for more than a year. She wants me to meditate, but my brain keeps proving to be too riddled with ADD and anxiety to allow itself ten quiet minutes of reflection, so she’s moved on to suggesting other ways I could work mindfulness into my days. I always nod at her suggestions while scoffing internally, and because I believe her to be an intelligent and intuitive individual I believe that she knows that’s what it means when I nod like that.

It just seems so preposterous to have to work at mindfulness. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a careless person, especially with the emotions of myself and others, but I also know that I am incredibly reflective. Sometimes I’m pre-reflective. I have a lot of very vivid memories from my life just like the one of me kicking my golden shoes on NYE to watch them sparkle, because while I was doing the things in those memories I was also thinking: What will this memory feel like in ten years? How old will I be when I last remember this?

There’s me in first grade, crying in front of a boy for the first time while watching Bambi. There’s me in fourth grade, visiting my second grade teacher while my mother worked and helping her clean her desks with shaving cream. There’s me in seventh grade, hiding from bullies. There’s me in eleventh grade, arguing with an abusive high boyfriend. There’s me in my twenties, street racing and feeling so, so alive.

All of these things are with me all of the time, because when they were happening I wondered if they would always be with me. My memory is a disaster. It’s made of earthquakes because those are the things that have settled me into who I am. And when my therapist says she wants me to be mindful I slide back into these things I’ve kept and wonder how that’s ever supposed to help when every single one of these memories feels like it’s part of the problem.

It has taken me the better part of this year to truly understand what mindfulness is and how it can help me moving forward. It has taken me several months since coming to that conclusion to admit that my therapist might actually be onto something. It has taken me the last month or so work out what that will look like for me going forward, at least to start.

I don’t like to make New Years resolutions because I have never once kept one. Honestly, since that lonely New Years I’ve sort of been lukewarm on the concept of the day as a whole. But I do like fresh beginnings. I like having an excuse to look at where I’ve been and try to map out where I’m going, even though I’m into my thirties and still don’t really have an idea of what I want from my life. Mostly I’m finding that for the first time in a very long time I just want to live. So going into 2018 I’m going to try to be mindful with my life. I’m going to mind what I put into my body and my brain. I’m going to mind how I exercise my body and my brain. And I’m going to mind the time that I have so that I can work on some concrete goals that I’ve already spoken into the world.

I want this blog to be a part of that. I want to write at least 52 posts this year. I started trying to come up with types of posts so that I could make into a fancy list that would turn into tags that would let anyone who happened upon this new beginning know what might be coming, but since I don’t know what’s coming anything I put down would turn into a lie. I don’t know who I’ll be in six months. I don’t know who I’ll be tomorrow. I don’t know if what interests me now will interest those other mes.

I do expect to still be interested in reading and writing poetry and science fiction and essays about the things that make people who they are. I do expect to fall in love with albums and movies and books. I do expect to spend a lot of time at local art museums and also maybe just as much time creating visual art of my own. I do hope that I can cling to this newfound desire to assert myself, to really think about who I am and then be that person without shame. I do hope that all of the mes to come will have this mindfulness in common and use it to write out the things she’s thinking and feeling instead of just internalizing those feelings and letting them fester. (Too many feelings are like too many bottles of cider, they lead to stomachaches and anxiety spirals.)

I haven’t had a single lonely New Years since that boy and I broke up. I haven’t worn those glitter flats either, even though I still own them. I live in a real city now, in a place where it gets cold, and they’re not very warm or comfortable to wear on long-ish walks to the bus or train. I spend a lot of my winter in boots. I spend most of my time with people who love me and who make that very clear in all the ways that we relate and compromise.

Tonight I’m going to sit at my friends’ kitchen table and drink and eat and laugh and talk about our years as I’ve done every New Years Eve since I moved here. At midnight we’ll sing ‘This Year’ by The Mountain Goats as loud as we think the neighbors can stand and I’ll pass out on their sofa bed while trying to project the warmth I feel into the future. How old will I be when I remember tonight for the last time? What will I have accomplished? Will I have projected my way into love? Will I have been mindful of my desire to stop here and write about it along the way?

We’ll see.

Playing The Tears on repeat.

The holidays has been extra hard this year for a lot of reasons, but the chief among them are grief and depression and just feeling like I’ve failed everyone I’ve ever met by not being a better version of myself. Every time I think about sitting down to write about it, even a private version of it, I feel preemptively embarrassed by all of those things and then the fact that I have all of these other feelings about them. So I painted them instead. Is this less embarrassing? Probably not. Oh well.

These are the rough progression of what it’s felt like to go from a world where a certain love existed, to a world without it. I’ve felt engulfed by sadness as of late and I’m not quite sure how to shake it. Maybe I never will.

These are presented with apologies to all the real artists that I love and could never hope to emulate.

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