For many years we have brought in the new year with Kathryn and the kids. The kids would build a big bonfire, Kathryn and I would open up the wine and stand around in the kitchen, chopping, stirring, talking about work and husbands and children and God and literature, so very happy to be together.
We never ran out of a conversation.
This year they were in New Jersey and we are in Texas. We wept as we wished each other Happy New Year by phone and felt very lonely for each other. I decided that the best thing for me would be to do something completely different and out of character.
The children hung out with new friends and I got dressed up to meet my friend to go to a dance. Back in the day, over twenty years ago when I lived here in the Big Bend, we would love to go to dances. Sometimes my girlfriends and I, after a super long shift of waiting tables, would hop in the car and drive an hour or more to a community dance. Locals from both sides of the border, ranchers, a handful of tourists, and lots of music and cold beer. Country western, cumbia, rock and roll, we would dance and dance then drive the long road home in the wee hours, ready to get back up at 5 or 6am to serve the hungry hikers. We were young and apparently didn't need much sleep those days.
Raymond and I drove up to the Volunteer Fire Dept/Community Center in our separate cars. The music pounded and I got nervous. Cowboys in their hats and their girlfriends stepped out for a smoke. Decorations were hung and a few couples were out on the floor. It had been so long since I was a part of that world, I didn't know what to do.
The country band stepped off the stage and the Mexican guys stepped on as we tentatively made our way to the edge of the dance floor. Noone else went out, so, just like swimmers at the edge of a cold pool on an overcast day, we stuck out our toes and dove in.
We laughed as we waltzed and danced the cumbia and the shuffle. Other couples joined us, and the accordion howled and the guitars strummed and thumped and mournful voices sang in Spanish of leaving and returning and old ranches and I felt so happy to be back to border culture.
Kisses and hugs were shared all across the dance floor as the old year ended and the new one began. We danced another set, then got into our separate vehicles, he headed south and I drove west. A giant bowl of moon grew bright and orange as it slid down behind a mountain and a long train paused on the tracks, waiting for its turn to go through the town. Dull constellations faintly glimmered as I made my way into Alpine, and kissed my children and headed to bed.
I still missed Kathryn and other friends, but I didn't feel the least bit sad.
Welcome 2012. We are happy to greet you and welcome the many new things you have to offer us this year.
And to you, blog readers and friends, may this new year be filled with growth, peace, love and joy, and many opportunities to enjoy new adventures.