On Living in 2012


I spent Christmas in Cape Breton with Andrew, his parents, my mother and the sweetest chocolate lab named Meadow. It barely snowed the entire week we were there, and so when we went for walks in the forest with the dog, the moss was still bright green and springy under our feet, but because it was cold it had the most satisfying frozen crunch to it. Days were built around meals and reading books and those walks and the occasional drive to see the ocean or a brackish lake. We returned home to a dumping of snow and, best of all, a new kitty, which Andrew gave me for Christmas. She is tiny and silver with spots and stripes (she’s an Egyptian Mau), and we named her Maya because she has an M-shaped marking on her forehead and it was the only Egyptian name we could agree on. She’s still pretty shy, but she jumps like a ninja.


Next week we’ll be back at work, and things will get back to normal, but in the meantime there are 2 more days left in 2012, and I wanted to write something about this year.


I saw Leonard Cohen in Toronto at the beginning of December. He wore a suit and a fedora and was as gravelly voiced as ever. He performed for over three hours, his only breaks the pauses between sets and encores (two of them) or when one of his accompanying musicians played a solo or took lead vocals and he would kneel before them, fedora at his chest, his head bowed. Watching him, I was struck not just by how incredible it was that he was still performing like this at age 78, but that I was watching a man who had lived a life. I have mentioned this before, but one of my favourite lines of poetry is by Frank O’Hara, one that was later used as his epitaph: Grace to be born and live as variously as possible. I thought of that line while watching Leonard Cohen: all those lovers and all that travelling and those forays into spirituality and a bout with bankruptcy and then those songs, those albums, that rhyme-y poetry that only he could get away with. It’s maybe more a mythology than a real life, but it’s still impressive. I don’t want a life like Leonard Cohen’s exactly, or Frank O’Hara’s for the matter, but I would like to live a varying life, one that, when I’m 78, will have some heft to it.


In many ways 2012 felt like a year when the world shrunk a little. Not in a bad way, but in a way that made things seem a little more attainable. I remember 2011 as a quiet year, which I had wished for at its beginning, but by the end of it, I was ready for something louder. Which is what happened in 2012: things got loud.


There were so many extremes in 2012, some lovely things, some awful things, but they blended in a way that, when I look back on 2012, I feel like it has been a year of living.


From meeting my family in the Philippines for the first time, leaving Montreal and settling into the rhythm of our new life in Toronto, losing a beloved pet, moving into our new home and so many other things, some of them big enough that I’m still processing them, others so small seeming that it seems silly to write them out – like sitting on Chris and Soraya’s porch on warm summer evenings or that time I got off the streetcar too early and walked from Cabbagetown to work on a Friday morning – but they all contributed to the texture of this year, one that I’ll remember for awhile.


So here’s to a 2013 of more various living! More textures! I hope it’s safe and full and loving and fun for all of us.

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