Lately I’ve been desperate to find some holiday party to attend – could be Christmas, could be belated Hanukkah, or winter solstice, whatever. I’m easy. I work from home, though, so no one is required to make the world festive for me, and I’m stuck with only the stressful parts of Christmas prep: book a kennel for the dog, buy presents & try to get them shipped on time, think meditatively about the 12 hour drive to Utah.
So I decided to hearken back to my roughly 2011-era celebration mantra, i.e. Be The Holiday Party You Want To See In The World (at that point it was Be The Mad Men Dress-Up Party You Want To See In The World, but both involved baking and wearing a special outfit, so close enough). In the process of scheduling said party – not the least stressful task, actually, mid-December – I decided that I also needed to buy a tabletop Christmas tree that was exactly like the one my grandmother always had, which meant several hours fretting over eBay, convinced that someone would swoop in during the last 30 seconds and steal my emotionally-freighted item. Will it even arrive in time for the party? God I hope so.
I keep trying to figure out why this is all so important to me (as I was trying to reschedule the party for the third time, it was gently suggested to me that we could do a post-New Years party instead? Which of course misses the point entirely), but the only reasons I can come up with are deeply nostalgic or nearly mystical. My grandmother had the tree, so I must have the tree, because she loved me and I was a child once and god wasn’t the world so simple? The holidays are designed for people to gather and appreciate one another’s warm glowing warming glow* during the darkest time of the year. The Geminid meteor shower is happening on the night of the party, so of course the world wants this.
Usually I’m the first to critique my own sense of nostalgia as over the top, but in thinking about this, I realized that these past two years have been the first in which I didn’t have a party of exactly the type I’m craving spoon-fed to me, which is to say the first time when I didn’t have a big, ready-made community all prepared to gather and huddle and emote. (Or drink mulled wine. Practically the same. Ticket-straight-to.) I had grad school, Google, Chicago friends, college, and before that? High school, childhood, oh-god-so-easy-why-can’t-we-have-it-back. (As if we’d want it.)
So maybe not so over the top? Maybe a legitimate, semi-physical sense of withdrawal?
I tend to swing pretty wildly between wanting a tidy, permanent home and wanting to burn everything I own and travel. Wind-blown, lonesome. So although I will probably (hopefully?) continue to seek some balance between those extremes, I am trying to soothe myself with notions of where I might go next, and how to build on unsteady ground.
(Note: that list includes Antarctica – I’m trying to pull together a proposal for an NSF artist-in-residence grant at some point. I mention this only because I told Dave about it, and he sighed with great resignation and said: “I guess I’d go, if you went.” As if I was talking about, say, Ohio. Good man, him.)
*Really? Really, internet? No video clip of this? I did the best I could, honest. Closest I could get.