I'm writing first before I read; I'm giving only the most cursory and random glances to email and the like, so far (though Inbox Zero calls for One Last Big Sprint before the new year starts and my "delete things after 1 week" script starts kicking in).
New backpack, socks, and underwear. Utilitarian Christmas presents, though part of me resents writing this list of new property acquired because that's not the point of Christmas. All the same, they're simple things that made me warm and happy. (And really, what more do I need?) The best present has been Time By Myself In A Warm Place To Think; my family is wise enough (or tired enough - I'm not sure which) to leave me alone for a little bit this afternoon with my laptop and a sofa.
I nearly spent Christmas wandering Miami alone. The rest of my family was stuck in Chicago due to weather, and I debated the adventuring prospects of spending a good day and a half of wandering a strange city with a backpack of books and no hotel reservation during one of the busiest times of the year. It sounded great! Freedom to roam around and see places, do things, take random buses, meet people, get stories to tell -
And then this little voice in the back of my head - a voice I'm very not used to hearing - piped up. Think, it said. That's not what you want; it's what you'd expect yourself to do. Do not... hit... turbocharge... button. I looked. I saw a lonely, tired kid. Who could go flying off to Florida and slap a coating of excitingness! over being lonely and tired and be honestly happy and fantastic for a while, and unbothered by the solitude. It would be easy to tap into that - it's what I normally would do. The bigger risk would actually be to not go gallivanting off into the tropics. I didn't know what I would be without a turbo button at that moment. I had a pretty fair idea of what I'd do if I was excited.
So I sat on the airport bus as it circled past the terminal where I was to catch my flight. I spent the evening quietly playing with dogs in front of a fire, disengaged from the conversations happening in the living room next to me, thankful that my aunt and her family and their friends were welcoming me into their Christmas celebrations anyhow. I read about deboning pigs, working the spine free, smothering the meat with herbs and salt, roasting it until the skin crackled; I read about the rise of management as a discipline, I read about Gandhi, I read about the Berlin Wall, I read until my aunt drove me to the airport and I caught my (postponed) flight, talking about Walter Mitty and the splitting of worlds. And then I sat and read some more.
And then I wrote. I don't know how to be tired, and I don't know how to be still, or lonely, or sad. I know how to be excited; I know how to be quiet and suck in reams of information, I know how to make my own happiness and curiosity wherever I may happen to be thrown down. I know how to keep my pen moving across a page. I'll try to type out some of what I wrote later on.
We landed, and I settled in to read an economics book and eat a tuna salad sandwich. I almost went and hopped a random bus. I almost went out to Miami Beach late at night for no apparent reason other than to have something shiny to do, to go looking at the city in the evening. I listened to that little voice again and walked away so I would miss the last bus before I could reconsider my decision (which more than half of me immediately regretted - but I did it anyway). And then yesterday, I didn't buy a pair of comfy cargo pants my mother disapproved of, to make her happy, and I thought oh! So this is the voice of reason, that's what it sounds like. It's still usually inaudible. And I won't necessarily listen to it next time. But it's another thing to know.