Last night was the second New Years I’ve spent alone. December 31, 1997 was the first. I had been sick for a week with the flu. I passed out in a recliner in front of the television. I woke up in the moments after Dick Clark counted down the ball in Times Square. Through bleary eyes and a delirious flu brain, I sang the first few words of ‘Auld Lang Syne‘ to myself and my cat, Magnum the maine coone. The next morning, I woke up feeling a lot better. I had slept hard, with Magnum and his bushy tail nestled around my head. On usual nights, he’d start out at my head but fidget around through the night and wind up somewhere else. That night he stayed close to me, as if to breath and purr all over me, healing me with his little soul. But I digress, the healing powers of ‘wittle yanimals‘ (as I like to call them) is it’s own subject to be discussed later.
So that year, I spent the most festive evening alone, green, and sick. This year, I worked. I was not technically alone during the last hours of 2007. I was of course surrounded by a full unit of doctors, nurses and patients, but you get my point. I was without my peeps–my inner circle–my friends…the people I love. I discharged my last little patient at 11:55 pm and as they walked out the door, I looked down at my watch and wished them a happy new year. The charge nurse had promised me earlier in the night that I could leave after my last patient, so in those minutes leading up to midnight, I had a reflective hand wash, walked through the halls into the break room, ready’ing to leave. In the locker room I twisted the dial to open my locker. And into it (in almost out of body slow motion) I tucked away the articles of my pockets: my stethoscope, my scissors, my calculator, my pen, notes, and gum. I gathered my coat and mittens and zipped myself up. I passed through the outer waiting room and glanced at the few families scattered throughout rows of chairs, waiting to be seen….
As slid my badge through the time clock I noticed that it was already 2008. Passing through the automatic doors, I met the cold night and exhaled my warm breath into a cloud. I paused a bit and looked out into the night. I took my time down the steps towards my car, and as it(my car) warmed up, I took no hurry–listening to a perfect new Cd in the stereo–remembering the last new year’s I’d spent alone, and the quiet steps I’d taken to bed that night.
So here it is, the first day of 2008. And here are some recent bits of my winter of 2007…
Stood at my kitchen door-
tucked a towel around the base with my foot
Trying to keep the draft out,
felt winter’s breath pushing through the cracks
Walked through a breeze on New Year’s eve…
The automatic hospital doors sensed my presence and opened wide
“There’s the outside, girl! There’s the night…you are free”
Stepped out into it, the black black night,
felt the cold squeeze around my nose and cheeks
Stared up into the sapphire midnight
and watched carlights and starlights ripple through it
like sun on a placid lake…
Strolled around an iced lake
Silent pink night, black branches like seminals in sacred winter
Geese huddled around a dock, flap their wings
and send a shudder through my paper thin
–and pretending to be bold–
One year passes into another
A newborn midnight gives way to reverberations
of a perfect chant that pours from my human heart
It sings, lifting up pristine thoughts of you,
Oh, my white and flower clad krishnas!
The walls of my skull are painted with you
Happy New Year…