It has been nine years since I started ruminationville, and if you have followed me during this time you would know that each January I reflect here on the previous twelve months. At the beginning of 2020, my daughter and I spent some days together in Upstate New York, and, from my point of view, they was glorious. How could we have known then that in several weeks’ time the world would be gripped by a raging pandemic — one that would send us all scrambling for the relative safety of our individual cloisters and that would leave us humbled by the staggering chutzpah of a microscopic virus, which, by the beginning of 2021, would kill upwards of 400,000 souls in the US alone? And how could we have known then that Donald Trump, the Devil incarnate, would deliver a year of selfishness, corruption, lawlessness, and violence that would eclipse all that we had to endure for the previous three years from this monster and his sycophants? (Or for four years if you count the moment when, in stunning vainglory, he descended a golden escalator to the basement of his eponymous New York tower.)
But if these past few weeks have shown me nothing, they have revealed the importance of locating in myself an enduring core of kindness and good will that I can hold up like a crucifix to those who would destroy our peace (including, of course, the Satanic base of murderous, racist, anti-Semitic Trump fans who went on a June 6 rampage through Congress and who terrorized those who had been there to work).
It would be a lie to say that I have not had to contend with monsters in my head who internally (and, occasionally, externally) spew their own versions of hatred against this unspeakable evil. Indeed I have. But it is equally true to say that my own darkness is no match for the love I feel for the world itself.
I can tell you that, throughout my years on Earth, I have held within my heart a glinting thread of hope (for what is love if not everlasting hope). And this has been true no matter the various calamities that have found me — or me them. There is much that I cherish — but no one and nothing more than my daughter. This is a love without end. My love for friends who have supported me throughout my life and whom I have supported also endures. Even the love I have held in my heart for a man, who during two decades has never once shown me a jot of kindness or concern, remains — though I confess that this is a love that attempts to flee whenever my back is turned.
It has been more than six years since I published my first piece on this site, and for five of those years I was diligent about marking the anniversary of each passing year with a post that would somehow measure the progress I thought I might have made during the previous twelve months.
This past year, my sixth as queen of an undistinguished, microminiature cyber realm, I found myself changing in ways I could hardly bear to notice, much less measure, and discovered I had been shaken loose from a habit of writing often and from a feeling that what I had to say would matter to those who visited here. I have come to see that, these days, writing mostly means my having to unearth a personal history that pains me profoundly (and from which I have long fled). Much of my previous confidence has hightailed it, too.
It all began last January, when I saw the country I didn’t even know I loved begin to lose its wheels, and I watched with horror while a man with a soul as dark as death made off with the presidency of the United States.
It enrages me just to see his picture or to hear his voice, which means I have been in a near-constant rage for more than a year because there is no escaping him. And, while it is true that I am angry about what he and his sycophants are doing to the republic and that my feelings appear to be those of a patriot, I have come to see that the fury has more to do with my own afflicted history than it does with the squatter in the White House. Watching him gaslight his way through the first year of a presidency without even a hint of remorse has poured a terrible light on the traumas of my earlier life, when a family of miscreants abused and confused me almost beyond repair.
The #MeToo movement also has forced me to reckon with a history of two failed marriages as well as to reflect soberly on my countless other relationships (or make-believe relationships) in which I sought, and found, the same confusing abuse I experienced as a child. And it has afforded me a certain amount of emotional cover so that I could endure reliving the sexual harassment and molestation I experienced at the hands of employers, doctors, and others I thought I was obliged to trust.
This year we have two gorgeous
yellow warblers nesting in the honeysuckle bush.
The other day I stuck my head in the bush.
The nestlings weigh one-twentieth of an ounce,
about the size of a honeybee. We stared at
each other, startled by our existence.
In a month or so, when they reach the size
of bumblebees, they’ll fly to Costa Rica without a map.