It’s strange looking back over the last year, not just because it feels like it’s taken 19 months to get through 2018. Bruno Mars and Cardi B giving us an In Living Color homage? That was 2018. We had an Olympics this year. Black Panther only came out this year. The Han Solo movie was this year, in case you forgot. That ballistic missile alert in Hawaii that would have scared the shit out of me if I’d stopped more than a second to think about it before the all-clear? This year. The new Warby Parker glasses, the revelation that Ebbets Field was making Vandy gear now, the revelations about Cambridge Analytica, the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman-Douglas High School, all this year.
Too much, so often. There’s 2018 in summary. It was made more complicated in this space by thinking I’d lost the server and the backups, and then trying to reassemble what I could, and in the course of that going down the rabbit hole of paper diaries and older blogs and basically recapitulating most of this century, starting in a era where a phone could place and receive calls and a blog was just an endlessly-extended page of plain HTML. It was a lot to wrap my head around, and a lot to process, and went along with a lot of other processing.
There were two big lessons for me in 2018:
1) It was anxiety all along. Always. The depression was co-morbid with the anxiety and not always caused by it, but the constant creeping anxiety – about getting it wrong, about not having the answer, about not knowing – has been the defining story of the last forty years for me, and figuring that out was like watching the world slide ninety degrees and suddenly realizing it was a schooner all along.
2) I’ve finally, genuinely, actually aged into where I wanted to be all along. Mid-40s (OK pushing late 40s), stable job at a place I’m not wedded to but can live with, happy enough with who I am, content to have a nice quiet pint and read a book and be left alone and not feel like I’ve missed out on something important and critical…yes, I’d love a do-over on the entire decade of the 1990s but you know what, it’s not happening. Put down the boards and the fencing and the cones and the warning tape and go around. And I can do that now, more than I ever could before. It’s okay if you can’t turn it into some overarching narrative, it’s over, it’s done. Get on with life.
All the bits work. Put the flannel hat and the Fed horn-rims and the AG work shirt on me, along with the fading jeans and the footwear I don’t have to lace, and I feel right. I’m a guy of a certain age, who has led a genuinely interesting life, who has stories and history, and who is content to snuggle his sweetie on the couch in front of an HDTV video of a fire while the lights twinkle through December.
If 2019 turns out to be the year in which I no longer have to prove anything…wouldn’t that be something.