Wednesday, January 01, 2014
People tend to say “Happy New Year.”
This is most likely because they look ahead to some new beginning that the new year promises.
I’ve never thought of this day that way.
For me the change of year has always been something sad, something left behind.
This is not a case of “could have beens” or “should have beens.” I subscribe wholeheartedly to Lawrence of Arabia’s philosophy “nothing is written” unless I write it.
Still each passing year leaves its own indelible mark on my life, clumps of time that will never come again, to which I know I will later look back with some fondness and yes – to some degree – regret.
Each year’s passing means leaving behind more than just a memory – and though I often promise to keep in touch with some of those who made up that part of my life, I know with some I won’t, and I will instead carry away an out-of-date image of who those people are, my life lived in a moment that has already expired.
This change of year marks a significant shift after a decade working in
– a place I came to love even when each year it became a different place from
the place I inherited a decade ago – just as when I left Secaucus in 2003,
Secaucus was different.
Over the last few years, I needed change, something to jolt me out of routine and into the world again, and yet, finally, when it comes I shudder from the expectation of it.
Change may be good, but it is also uncomfortable.
On this day of every year, I tend to look back to each of the clumps and the people who were deeply involved in my life. I look back at those who got left behind – this year Ralph, and Eddie, and others who I shall not see again in this world.
I reunited with my best friend, Pauly, one of three companions I hung with over the long years though had lost touch with over the last two. He could not remember the year Hank died, a date and time I cannot shed from my mind.
Some of us are born to keep records of the world, not the history of civilizations, but that of people who love or even hate, those history might consider insignificant, but are hugely significant in my life and the texture of life as we know it – the every day people whose struggle is what life is all about, the happiness and sadness, the accomplishments and yes, the disappointments.
These are the things worth recalling, and keeping alive.
I keep thinking about the Comet Shoe repair shop in Bayonne I went into during the first months on the Bayonne beat, and Erwin’s Department Store, and Hyman’s Shoes – bits and pieces of a past that should not have existed even when I encountered them, but had somehow waited for my arrival before they passed on.
I miss them, and the people associated with all such places, because they take with them something that we can never get back a living memory of times and places that only they possess, and cannot fully convey even to recorders of personal history like me.
Some people become monumental in my life, and I tend to pay more attention to them than others, but even the small stories, the brief encounters, that look on the street are precious to me, and linger inside of me long after the reality has vanished.
This is the day of the year when we take notice of the changes that go on around us everyday. For me, it is a bitter-sweet day in that I am leaving behind in the old year as much as I expect to gain in the new one.