New Year's Day

We wake, a little later than usual, and stretch on our way from the bedroom towards the kitchen, where we fumble for our coffee and tea. Minutes later and a few sips in, we share hellos, and make a plan to walk the dog after breakfast, not before.

We sit in quiet, turning the blinds, finding the optimal amount of morning sun. We pore over magazines, put together a breakfast of leftovers and fresh eggs. We change into clothes. With a new, or perhaps more honest, outlook, I try on a year-old sweater that I desperately want to work. As I brush my teeth, the sweater hangs wrong – the sleeves too long, the torso too short. I peel it off, replacing it with a standby black sweater (nothing more realist) and vow to only wear things that work for me in this new year.

We get outside, dog ready and happy for a walk together. With our lazy holidays, her routine has been off. We head for a longer walk than usual. The downtown skyline, from our small hill, looks smoggy. The 20 degrees feels a lot warmer, and I peel off my scarf, weaving it under my hood to stay tacked down.

We walk in quiet. We head down a new street, towards a large home we hadn’t noticed before. A community building for kids. We head towards our park, but from a different direction. The dogs seem friendlier here, barking hellos instead of aggression. A Rottweiler bounces a few inches off the ground, up and down, up and down, and whines quietly when our dog, ignoring him, moves out of sight.

We climb up the short, steep hill. We notice things that indicate a quiet difference from other days: a dad is pulling his kid in a red flyers wagon, golden retriever dutifully pacing alongside. From a distance, two kids laughing and playing are, upon closer inspection, instead/actually two adults laughing and moving, sending a remote-controlled car up and down the dirt hills in the long, skinny bike park by the freeway.

We reflect that last night was just right, as we slowly change. We drank, though much less. We stayed up late, though barely past the pre-recorded East Coast ball drop.

Today we rest. Today we put the final touches to the changes we have for the year. We talk about little things we can do: rent a fun car, visit hot springs, take long walks along urban trails. These provide some excitement, some ease. We talk about the bigger things that we want to do, but are harder: paying off debt, visiting a new country. These give us worry and concern, making us pause for ways to further tighten the straps on our little boots – which seem less useful anyhow, with these warm winters.

Most importantly, we want to keep ourselves recognizable. A little action at first is better, after our year of excitement, big plans, big parties, and the political and emotional malaise that both suggested and approved of extra sleep and extra Netflix (though only one of those is really good in the long run). Now, we want action. We are nearly recovered and ready for what’s next.

We take our refreshed energy and make something better, not new.