Hidden Lovelinesses of 2016

  • When 2016 began, I was seeing a sort of Kerouackian wanderer bum. It wasn’t a relationship, we were quick to clarify – more just a thing where we’d drink beers and listen to each other tell stories. His were better than mine (it wasn’t fair; I told myself, he’d had more time to acquire them) and so that was what I was doing when 2016 began: sitting on my frozen porch and listening to him tell a story. Probably it had mud bikes in it, or voracious reptiles. Probably I was happy at the end of it. This all could have gone on for a while, but the thing about being a Kerouackian wanderer bum is you’re perennially leaving town. You have to, or else you’re just a bum. “I’ve got to go,” he’d say, his voice tinged with regret. “It’s just – I can’t stay here any longer. God, I wish it were different.” Two weeks later though he’d be back, and I’d open the door and let him in. This continued until he left for good. I wasn’t really sad about it. I had the stories.


  • Prince died and my brother and I took the bus downtown, noticing as we got on that the silent crowd was packed in purple and glitter. I felt, quite selfishly, at the epicenter of things, a feeling that intensified when we got to First Avenue and a whole street full of people was crying. Here we are, I thought. We are at the center of grief. What an unusual thing for Minneapolis to feel.


  • My friend Lisa visited. It was a stupidly gorgeous photo-real spring day, so we sat on our porch, just being quiet, which Lisa is very good at. She let me braid her hair, which is thick and brown and beautifully curly, with flowers from the bush next to us. Then we both painted our toes: she chose light blue, and I chose purple, for Prince. On my feet it stayed there like a bruise all summer, and there’s still a little bit left; every time I look down, I’m glad that I think of that day first.


  • For the last four hours of class, the gym teacher’s note said, there is no plan. Just have them run laps and then they can play on the playground. Which meant that I got to play on the playground too. I don’t know if you’ve ever played on a playground for four hours, but believe me, it’s worth a shot.


  • I got to watch a guy who’d become famous for being killed be awesome at his job for the last two months of his life.
    • Much of what was good about 2016 boils down to this, come to think of it. I got to be there. I got to watch.


  • My family and I went to Aspen. I was expecting to not like Aspen – I mean, I’d seen Dumb and Dumber, I knew what type of people visited Aspen – but much to my surprise, I wound up liking Aspen very much. We ate a picnic in a peace garden and wandered through the shady streets with their little mountain brooks. We couldn’t afford anything, but it was more funny than anything. It made me wonder what else in this world I might like if I tried it.


  • I got rejected, over and over again in so many ways. I thought of many ways to write this blog post – The personal rejections? Is that too much for a writing blog? The professional rejections? I mean, wouldn’t that make anyone not want to employ me in the future? No rejections at all? But that’s a lie, and maybe won’t admitting that I got rejected so repeatedly and so wholeheartedly in 2016, from things that I thought I was going to get and that I knew I was qualified for, maybe won’t that make me look, I don’t know, modest and retiring, two things I know I am not but strive daily to appear to be?  – but ultimately I think it’s best that I just say this: the rejections led me to this apartment, which is the most beautiful and the cleanest place I have ever lived; to this point in my novel, which is both closer to being done and further away from it than it’s ever been; and to this relationship, which is the sort of thing where the guy says, “On our trip to California, I don’t know if we’re going to manage to go horseback riding on the beach, but we’re definitely going to the mountains. I hope that’s okay with you?”
    • Tl;dr – I am now regularly waking up next to the kindest person ever in a place that I like, and then I go and do work that I love. None of this was true a year ago.


  • After the polls closed, four of us Democrats drove back from Willmar in a furious haste, excited for the election of the first female president, for our local candidates to win. We were giddy. For the past month we’d worked every day, twelve hours at a stretch, and we knew it had to be leading up to something good. Still, I, the driver, was nervous. I was also in charge, so I said, “You guys, I cannot listen to the radio’s results. I just can’t. I just want to roll up to the party when she wins, and that’s that.” The rest of the van listened. They shut off the radio, hooked up the auxiliary cable, and they played this rollicking selection of songs from their phones: The Book of Mormon, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Crosby, Stills and Nash, South Park  – anything was fair game. The car was ebullient in a way it had never been: it was carrying us forward, and nothing bad could possibly happen to us. Twenty days from Inauguration I still feel it, the mood in that car, and there’s nothing anyone can say that will convince me what we felt and made together was a lie.

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