And so, in case you all are wondering: What did my grandma Maggie do on New Years Day?!
Maggie New Years Day, Saint Mark’s Place, Manhattan, 1937
M. got day off, so laid around late and then up for Sunday breakfast at 11. Grimes came over, sent out for canned lemon juice and caviar and gave them whiskey sours which Hank taught M. to make, and M. liked. Gioia to sleep on couch while we played bridge. They both rather hung over but perked up with sours. Thalia getting coy and saying mustn’t drink more because feet tingled and that sign of impending drunkness, and saying she much gayer and less formal not because school out, and she not working as we had thought, but because Mummy in the West for the holidays. They left at six and we walked through springlike dusk all the way up to Kate and Fritz’s on Beekman Place, discussing marital atmosphere of couples we knew. Greeted by Veronica O’Brien, Dorothy Robinson and Barbara, as Fritz and Kate over at Mrs. Colgate’s. John Larkin making fire in fireplace with remains of Xmas tree for kindling. Egg nog in punch bowl we gave Cramers for wedding present. They in at last with lots more from Colgate’s, including poisonous Curtis somebody and his fairy friends, and another pregnant woman who looked better through the middle but worse in the face than I, but I didn’t like her. Talked to Florence Reback who offered us a pair of scales and was fun as usual, talked to Norman Plummer and to John Larkin, who said book he wrote and told me about last New Year’s was out and doing well for it’s type, and he to talk to Simon and Schuster about doing popular one on Constitution. Had oysters cooked in large pot with celery and lemon, baked beans, ham, salad and coffee. Left early as rather tired. Home and M. finished The Big Money while I read anniversary number of Scribner’s which Lump gave us—The Open Boat by Stephen Crane and Xingu by Edith Wharton reprinted in it—and to sleep by ten-thirty.
And What Did Her Granddaughter, Suzanne, Do???
Natalie’s infamous church (the bathroom is where the confessional once was…)
New Year’s Day, 2010, Brattleboro, Vermont
On New Years Day P. and I didn’t eat much as we’d eaten ourselves silly at Natalie’s the night before. She had a dinner party for 12 at her house, which is a renovated Catholic church, she sleeps beneath the belfry and her altar looks like a casbah, there’s fabulous art everywhere, oriental rugs, candles, a long table for dinner parties, and big couches you can fall asleep on. There was an eclectic group of artists and musicians there, including Randy, the glass blower and Sam, the fiddle player and Nick, the yoga guru who did a headstand for us on hardwood. We thought we’d all pile in the wood-burning hot tub, but New Year came and went without nudity. We were home at 2:30 to sleep it all off.
New Years found me feeling fat and un-botoxed and generally in deep malaise about whether writing is actually pissing in the wind. We live in 2010, and it is nearly impossible not to focus on goals for the future and what you have accomplished in the past. So, I wrote a big long journal entry about the entire decade, living in Oxford where I wrote my first novel in a guest house on a horse farm, kissing poets on antebellum roofs, taking convertible trips down the Natchez Trace with Johnny Little, San Fransisco for Fourth of July, the Grand Canyon with my mother, undercover to write about the drug world in Atlanta, moving to Tucson to live in an old convent, dating a Chicano acrobat, a Norwegian skier, a West African football player, a French model, a painter twice my age and others… 2 book tours, volunteering as a cross-country ski guide for the blind, living in Panama, Panama, Panama, Oaxaca at Christmas, traveling to Paris and Rome, getting my master’s degree, and marrying Peter. Most of this happened in the first half of the decade, and I found myself awake at three a.m., panicked.
Besides my master’s degree and getting married, what had I done between 2004 and 2009? In the dark cold while it snowed outside, my mind went blank. What on earth had I been doing??? Why hadn’t I made more goals and reached them? Why wasn’t the world on fire from my work? I resolved to wake up at the crack of dawn, start a non-profit, finish my novel, send ten stories out to journals, get my yoga teacher training certificate, and learn hip hop. The whole plan made me sweat. I wondered if I should get up right then and run downstairs to begin, but I knew the floor would be too cold.
Then I thought about my grandma’s diary. What I love about my grandma’s diary is that she focuses on one day at a time, and all the moments in it: lolling around until eleven, sending out for caviar and lemon juice, walking in the springlike mist, staying up to read Edith Wharton. No goals, no left behind regrets. And it dawned on me what I was doing during the second half of this decade: I was having moments, I was sitting at my altar watching the river go by, writing bad poems for the hell of it, reading good poems by candlelight, getting lost on my snowshoes on the face of Mount Wantastiquit, turning my Ram Das CD up as loud as I could and doing yoga nude in our very hot apartment, I was taking baths with lavender salts, swimming in the river on the hottest day in July, looking for fairies with my nieces, laughing with my sister, drinking good wine with Kristin in our Halloween costumes (she: Twiggy, me: Mermaid), reading Tolle with Lauren on the beach, holding hands with Chip on Jane Street, eating gourmet dinners with John and Marshall, taking steam baths with Marshall Chapman, lying under the stars with Lizzy in Vermont, and spending millions and millions of moments with my dear, sweet, wonderful, ever-inspiring husband. I thought of all these magical moments, and it was just like finding rainbows in newly fallen snow.
I turned and looked at him, my sleeping husband. There’s a goal, I reached, I thought. So many lonely nights in Panama, in Mexico, in Arizona, in hotels after reading my book aloud to gracious audiences, I’d imagined someone just like him. And now, like a miracle, here he was. And so what if the only thing I had done in this whole past decade was to learn to love him? To learn to be loved? I reached out and touched his back. In his sleep, he took my hand, and all of the sudden in this brand spanking new decade, he was familiar to me and new again, all at once. And without another thought of starting a non-profit, I fell back into a long, deep, satisfied sleep.
Happy New Year everybody, may it be filled with moments, moments, moments and an appreciation for the ones we love and, of course, my grandma’s diary…