Prompt: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
2010 was a year of moments, strung together on a string like so many glass beads. It even started that way. My husband and I took a walk through our neighborhood, looking in windows and dancing on the street in the snow. He spun me around and not a car went by the whole time. Everyone else was revelling or asleep. We were doing the thing we do, paying attention. The rest of the day didn’t matter, but that time outside did, the chill in the air, the crunch of the snow underfoot, even the streetlight glow.
When I signed up for this writing challenge, I knew I’d have to answer for this year in multiple ways, trying to reduce it into a few paragraphs to be read by people who don’t know the first thing about me. In the week since that sign-up, I’ve come to realize that the year wasn’t coherent, not from this standpoint, looking back. There were moments that I wish never happened—the sight of a highway overpass approaching my windshield at an unbelievable speed, a body that rebelled unpredictably through insomnia and illness, and yesterday, a visit with a veterinarian that cast a gray pall over this little house.
But it was so good, too. So good. Canada is not usually as kind to me with weather as it was this year, with a short, mild winter and a blast of summer that evoked Pennsylvania summers, the summers of my childhood. Weather moments: the sun burnishing tan lines around my sandals, the race through the rain to our hotel in The Esplanade, the shudder of the snow shovel along the driveway. I took a lucky photograph on my very first day with a big-girl camera. I was out in it this year, more than I usually am. I lived it. I traveled to new places, poked my nose into new stores, picked up books and put them down and picked up more and bought them.
When I wasn’t out in it, I was at my desk, writing. Really writing. My book grows and grows, and shrinks when I slice out hundreds of words at a time, and grows again. I want a draft done by December 31. And then there is this lovely site, something Heather and I created to give ourselves structure and purpose and to give ourselves even more of each other. Most days, I got up from my desk and believed that I did a good job—that’s the same, reliable moment over and over again. Not every moment has to be a shimmering, ephemeral flash. Sometimes you sense them approaching and feel yourself warm in advance, as if a kiss were imminent.
Looking back, I’m not bothered by the patchwork nature of 2010 and its collection of moments. One year from today, I want to be looking back at today and seeing bigger moments, moments made into milestones. I want my daily writing to result in a finished manuscript, then a first query, and a third and a twentieth and a fiftieth, and then a contract. I want the site to hold more and more of our writing, and that of our friends, until we have a one-year anniversary. I want to have visited Montreal for the first time. This time next year I will not have a wheezing senior cat sitting behind me sleeping restfully, but I will have honored him and given him the best last days a cat can have, and my husband and I will have gotten through this together yet again. I want milestones I can’t even fathom yet, ‘cause you can’t plan everything. And I want to be in a position to make more of them when the year is through.