2016 Exit Strategy

“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot?’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?” — When Harry Met Sally

And if that’s not the least confusing thing that happened this year for you, then congratulations.

Holy shit, 2016. You need to go. My name is Kim, and I’ll be your escort to the damn door. You’ve had your fun and now it’s over — please proceed to the nearest exit.

Listen. I’m not one of those people who likes to wish things away. Generally, I like time to slow down and leave its proper mark of remembrance, because often times — especially when I look at my kids — I find it going by way too fast. But the marks left by this year feel more like gut punches and side kicks to the head.

Does anyone else feel like the world has lost its damn mind? Seriously. Lost. Its. Mind.

exit

I am a news junkie and I think it’s affecting my state of mind to merely read a newspaper (yeah, the old school print ones) or just browse the headlines on my computer. Forget the comments on social media — I mean, we should all have meds just to read those. Aleppo. ISIS. Disasters. War. Human rights violations. It’s so, so much to take in.

How lucky am I to live right here?

Lucky, indeed. With caveats. Because, even here, without bombs and terror and war, things are very, very shifty. There is no denying a deep divide in this country right now. A big Us Versus Them mentality on both sides of the political equation, and it’s getting to be very precarious. The way in which people speak to each other is not civilized disagreement anymore — it’s a venomous hatred of the other side’s beliefs, and it’s not like anything I can recall happening before. This divide is wide and deep and more than a little scary, I think. While it may have been brewing of years, 2016 took us in a very new direction.

And the stuff in between that will be memorialized in the year-end news — the pop culture icons we lost (I can’t even), the movies we paid to see, the words we added to the dictionary, the books we read and the shows we watched. They are all marks of how 2016 played out in its most innocent form. Would these be the things someone would find in a time capsule about this year? Or will the exhausting headlines of how we all started treating each other be the hallmark of what we leave behind?

Yes, we have our health and our home and our family and all of the things we need. Way more than what we need, and I am beyond grateful. Sure, I could bitch about 2016 having my husband lose his job, or two kids getting Celiac, watching a close friend and a family member both fight cancer, or crazy relatives who dig in their heels for the sake of being jackasses — but what’s the point? That’s run of the mill stuff of life. The stuff you take on the chin and incorporate into your days and move on. I have no airstrikes over my head and no military in the streets and no hate crimes at my door step.

It sounds dramatic, I know. I’ve been reading too much news.

I could unplug — and maybe I should — but what good does it do to bury our heads in the sand? To not stand up when civility is fainting all around us. To look away because it’s easier. I don’t think my brain can re-wire itself to un-see and un-read what this year has brought. Sometimes I wish it could.

I’m so sorry, did you think this was going to be a sweet little nostalgic post about this year’s milestones and next year’s resolutions? Actually, so did I. Whoops. But when I conjured up this year in my head, all of this flew out instead.

And there were those sweet, sweet moments, for sure. The insanity of my kids and who they are, who they’re becoming, consumes my days and is the gratifying/maddening/hilarious/frustrating bold print of my time. Their new interests and ideas and mishaps punctuate all that we do in my house, as they should. Their laughter and arguing and sass and bad knock-knock jokes are the soundtracks of our lives. And the hideous world events, the collapse of whatever else has fallen this year, are all there in italics and footnotes to shape what I do for them and how to guide them. Their story is the most important one, but it is inextricably woven, even remotely, with the headlines they are often too young to read.

I hate odd numbered years and, more specifically, prime numbered years. They feel unsettling and like bad luck to me. But hey, if a perfectly even year like 2016 can make this much of a fucking mess, then I think I’m going to have to just look 2017 square in the eye and deal.

And by deal, I do mean not bury my head. Not watch the fainting of civility. Not look away.

The real trick is not getting too consumed. Because I could spend all day enraged and exasperated over every headline, but there are board games to play and holidays to celebrate and growth charts to update. Cupcakes to bake (gluten free, of course). Homework to check. Lives to plan. Curveballs to duck. This is where I’m most needed — both feet firmly planted at home, with a constant, diligent eye on the outside world.

And lest you think I’ll spend tonight rocking in a corner while mumbling about the end of days, don’t worry. There will be a house full of friends with champagne and laughs and none of this gloomy talk. I may be a little serious these days, but I know perfectly well how to be the person who doesn’t kill a party. And party tonight, we will — to celebrate the high points of the year and wish for better days ahead for everyone. I hope that your glasses are raised and full tonight as well, and spent with those who make you happy for all of the good. Because there is still so much of it.

Will we work it all of this out in 2017? Nope. I think we all know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But I do think the better comes from you and me and all of us who don’t bury our heads. All of us who know the next chapters can be better than the current one.

In the meantime, 2016, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

 

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