It has long been my practice on New Year’s Eve to contemplate the events of the preceding year. This morning I sat on the back deck in the cold winter sun. The great oak that shelters WeeHavyn with his glorious foliage most of the year stood stark with mighty trunk and twisted branches bare to the cold winds. The year has marked WeeHavyn in many ways that are easily seen: the newer wood of the extension on the deck, the privacy fence, the clothes line, even the color of WeeHavyn’s walls. Not so readily apparent in this tranquil cottage are the profound changes that have taken place deep beneath the surface of my life.
I began the year as a new business owner and I experienced a level of freedom I’ve not known since I was a child. My time has been my own and my fertile mind has used that time for so many interesting projects. WeeHavyn became not only my home, but my livelihood. She has sheltered both my business and my life. With more unstructured time, I set about making WeeHavyn the perfect urban homestead, complete with chickens, meat rabbits, and dairy goats. The evidence of this goal now stands empty and forlorn.
Just about the time I had everything ready to begin homesteading in earnest, my marriage, the solid foundation of my life for 18 years, buckled and cracked. Raw emotion spewed forth like molten lava from the gaping rift, wiping away every landmark and leaving my life a treacherous, ever shifting wasteland. I recognized nothing and every time I thought I had found solid ground, the thin crust of normalcy would crack and I would be off balance once again, spinning away on a new wave of seething emotion. WeeHavyn sat patiently cradling me through sleepless nights, tears, anger, and agony, a steadfast refuge in my churning reality.
Yet it is not in my nature to remain broken forever. The chaos faded and I began to rebuild the cracked and charred landscape of my existence. I have built new paths through the ashes and discovered long neglected friendships, like the intrepid underbrush that thrives in the shadows and dryness of the forest floor, bursting forth in bloom when I needed them the most. New friendships and loves begin to take root in the wasteland. Some bloom quickly and beautifully, only to fade away without a trace like the sweet rock roses I used to gather in the mountains, leaving just the small seeds of memories behind. Others begin with thorny branches that must be handled delicately, but bear tender fruit that nourishes my soul. Yet others push up with strength and determination wonderful to behold, twining around me like bindweed and holding me close whether I want them to or not.
One is never the same person at the end of any year that they were in the beginning, but the changes are rarely as great as those 2013 has brought me. Every circumstance in my life is different than I ever imagined it would be. Yet, through both the pain and joy, I have grown. Even if it were possible for me to go back to the beginning of the year, I would no longer fit into my old life.
I don’t believe I’d want to.