I've just finished my black-eyed peas & rice, corn bread, and collard greens. It is the traditional menu for a good southern boy to have on New Years. My versions aren't entirely traditional(my collard greens, for instance, are boiled, drained, and sautéed in a ton of olive oil and garlic). However, it's all very tasty, and I like to think I fulfill the tradition aspect well enough by cooking it in the first place in spite of any hangover I may or may not have. Now, all I really have to do to make it a perfect New Year's day is to hang out, watch the Winter Classic, and contemplate the year that was.
This, though, is where my personal traditions fall apart this year.
In many ways, I'm in pretty much the same situation as always. My academic career continues to stagnate, and, by now, I'm pretty sure I will never get that tenure-track job. I'm still living in the middle of the student ghetto, still driving a hand-me-down car, still writing desperately un-hip scholarship for no good reason, still have most of my friends either currently or are soon-to-be scattered throughout the country. I'm partway through another job-hunt year without any response from anyone at all. By all sense of my normal New Year's tradition, I should be sitting here, working through a terrible hangover, desperately trying to think happy thoughts, and doing everything I can to avoid my traditional seasonal depression.
This year, it's different. Although so much of my life is essentially unchanged, for many reasons, I couldn't really be happier.
It has been one hell of a year. Instead of being the guy who perpetually thought of himself as a failed guitar player, I am now in a pretty awesome band that's played out almost a dozen times and should have a cd out in a few months. Instead of being the lonely whiner of my teenage years, I regularly hang out with the best friends imaginable. I have conquered distance: even though one of my best friends left the country, we still hang out, drink, and chat regularly thanks to technology. Instead of having doubts about my academic relevance, I published in a major journal, have another publication coming out this month, and have the best writing I've ever done (which has real revolutionary potential) in circulation. Instead of feeling like I've missed having anything resembling a normal life, I have a child on the way. Hell, even after a 3am New Year's eve, I woke up feeling great
What's led to this joy, this sudden satisfaction with life? Beats me. I wish that I had some secret to impart, some bit of "if you do this, your life will be as awesome as mine" advice to give. Maybe I was just due. Maybe there is some sort of cosmic justice at work...although I doubt it.
I suppose that, as a writer, I would be insistent on finding the deeper meaning, coming to some great insight. Normally, I would...but there's hockey to watch, a food coma to work through, and a spousal unit to look at lovingly.
Enjoy your New Year's Day...it's a long year, and there's always plenty of time for insight later.