It's just my luck that I finally get my new website properly configured and this morning, the entire webhost where it will live has gone dark. Punctuate this paragraph with a heavy sigh and pour another cup of coffee. Ah well, I tell myself. Next week for sure! I surf over to my law firm's site which of course, cannot be loaded because the webhost itself is down. I try anyway. I stare dejectedly at the empty screen with its pixelated frownie face telling me this site cannot be loaded. No kidding. Meanwhile my cursor jumps around the blogspot, my coffee cools, and the dog stares dejectedly at her empty dish from which she's just inhaled 3/4 of a cup of $10/lb. dog food.
A Hershey's kiss leftover from last night's snack rolls across the tile on which my mug sits and I pretend to ignore it.
New Year's Eve. The dawn of a new chance for whatever I might be able to snatch from the jaws of the old year and plant in fertile ground. I pad around my house on the scuffed leather of the hand-knitted slippers which I bought in Half Moon Bay and think about all the repairs this house needs. The chores loom large: A broken window that's been pouring air into the upstairs bedroom since 2006; wooden slats dangling from the blind across the room; a faulty garage door opener; flimsy screens that jump their tracks; finish worn clear-through to wood at the front stoop where the dog tends to tinkle on days that I oversleep. I pour another cup of coffee and close the broken cabinet door over the wall from which old wallpaper peels under poor priming and the wrong kind of paint. I add "salvage the kitchen" to my mental list.
I cannot suppress another sigh, but a laugh quickly follows. I hear my mother's voice admonishing me to marry a physical therapist. At this juncture, I might adopt a carpenter.
New Year's Eve. I'm thinking of all those midnights standing on our front porch banging pots and pans. My brothers take to the stairs by the street shouting Happy New Year! at the passing cars. My mother's silhouette in the front door holds a green melamine cup full of hot Lipton tea. I'm on the sidewalk with a pie pan and a heavy spoon. My face flushes from too much hot chocolate or the excitement of the moment.
Fireworks start in the distance, just ahead of the ball-drop in Times Square which flickers on the black-and-white set in the living room. No one watches it. My father has gone to bed and my sisters have all gone on dates. Only my brothers and I see the turn of the year in Jennings, dancing in a gentle shower of silent snow on the icy street. We shiver without coats; the pink rises high on our cheeks.
New Year's Eve.
Today I will clean my house and sort the papers that I've shoved in the drawers, junk mail mostly but also a clutch of Christmas letters from people who remain clueless about the drift of my life. I run my fingers along the gilt edges of the greeting cards and put myself in their places. I don't send Christmas cards. I used to comb the stores for the perfect message and scrawl a personal note on each one, signing my name coupled with those of anyone else living in my house at the time. I stopped a few years ago. It doesn't seem bearable any more. The physical act of addressing all those envelopes and writing my solitary name might kill me. I think about my old high school friend Jan Lemond whose husband died last year and shake my head. Stop your belly-aching, Corley, I say outloud, hoping to convince myself.
New Year's Eve.
I'm told that I'm remembered fondly and I guess that's good enough. And Jeanne Serra said yesterday that I looked "ding dang cute". To be fair, she said that Hope, Patrick, and I looked cute in our group photo taken on the balcony at Cindy's in Chicago, but I'll claim it as a compliment anyway.
I walk along the driveway and stare dejectedly at the brambles and the scraggly bushes in my yard. I've let myself and my surroundings go to hell again. I aspire to be memorable, at least for someone, at least for something. But all I've got are the words on this page, and they run cold and meager in the end.
In a few hours, I'll have coffee with Jenny Rosen. She'll tell me to get my act together. She'll kick my butt and pinch my cheek. And afterwards, I'll sweep the cobwebs from the corner and dust Joanna's piano. I'll spray that sweet-smelling freshener on the green couch -- the couch I despise, the couch I never wanted -- and fluff the pillows. I'll re-arrange my rocking chairs and sweep the kitchen floor. By the time the new year rolls round, I'll be so tired that I'll sleep through the dawn of 2017. In the pale light of morning on its first day, I'll bang my pots to herald its coming. The old dog will cast her baleful eyes in my direction.
I'll tell myself it's a good enough start, and I think, maybe, it is.