Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year in Pictures

I didn't write very much this year. I think I was busy doing other things. Looking back on it, I really wish I had written about those things because some of them were really hard and it probably would have helped. I wish I had written about the time I caught a baby for a woman who was so high that she couldn't tell me her name as her uterus contracted nonstop and she started pushing at six centimeters. A baby boy slid out, gray and silent and she wouldn't look at him while the pediatric PA worked for fifteen minutes to get him pink and breathing. I watched the sweat drip off my forehead onto her thigh as I stuck my entire hand in her uterus and pressed down on her belly, hard, I knew it hurt but she didn't react and that scared me more than if she'd reared up yelling and screaming in my face. I could feel her uterus pouring blood into the bag between my knees and I knew there was cocaine in her blood and I imagined I could smell it, like its acrid, putrid scent was burning the inside of my nose as she bled and bled and her silent baby would not cry. Cry, I screamed in my head at the baby, and Stop fucking bleeding, I screamed in my head at her, and finally they both did, and I said to myself, This is not what I thought it'd be like, even though, by now, of course, I should know.

All of the studying. With Tucker, of course.
I should have written about packing up all of my worldly possessions - which meant getting rid of a good percentage of them. Boxes of books, clothes, jewelry, kitchen castoffs and other detritus sat on our sidewalk in the cold drizzle and I caught glimpses of passersby rifling through it. It felt like a tiny rejection when they walked away empty-handed. I sorted through memory boxes, recycling an avalanche of notes, birthday cards, love letters. I was relentless, told myself none of it mattered, it was all trash and then staring up at me would be a birthday card from my grandmother, the last one she wrote me before she died, her handwriting delicate, her cursive perfect. I'd crack open, it was like digging again and again at a barely healing scab. Apology notes after knock-down, drag-out fights over a topic I've long since forgotten. Sweet nothings from lovers I've half convinced myself never even existed, so complete is their vanishing act. I woke up the last morning in my room, emptied of everything that made it mine, and felt hollowed out and raw. This place was home, and the things that filled it, my things, were part of an anchor, holding me steady. And just like that, they're gone.

My room.

Campers, doing art.

Summer camp tie-dye.

Campfire cooking. Closed-toe shoes required.
I wrote about camp, some. It consumed me, consumed my entire summer and all my energy and left me wrung out at the end of every day. It was exhausting and doable and eternally frustrating and oftentimes completely fun. I remembered how important the outdoors are to my soul while I simultaneously grew an appreciation for buildings with insulation and electricity and the capacity for bath towels to dry in between showers. I learned what loons sound like, how to identify a white sycamore, the superiority of lake swimming over daily bathing, and how to talk to nine excited teenage girls at once. I saw my tortured teenage self in so many of them, and longed to bundle them all up in my arms and reassure them that good lord, life gets so much better than what it is at 15 but for pity's sake, stop being so frightfully mean to one another. Babies are so much simpler.

And this girl. Always this girl. I can't think too much about not living with her anymore because it makes me want to cry. Our friendship has not always been easy. We have fought, we have grown apart (then grown back together again), and we have said terrible things to each other. But our capacity to return to each other, to try again (and again, and again), to hold each other up and know one another inside and out - it is the truest thing I know and probably the only thing I really believe in.

Another year gone. Bring it on, 2015.