Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Happy new year, if you're still reading

This has been a hard year.

It seems so privileged and oblivious to even say this, because the world has had a hard year. The world is burning down, but it’s not one brilliant conflagration that sears everything clean, it’s a blend of slow messy relentless poisons that leave us gasping and waiting for the end.

But petty as my life is, here’s what it’s been like: I’ve spent a lot of it in pain and a lot of it working and a lot of it worrying about work and my health. As a result, I’ve been cranky and angry and in too much pain and exhaustion to not show it to my partner, who deserves so much better, who’s nearly always gentle and patient and should have more kindness and love than I’ve been able to offer.

And then: my partner lost his father. I’ve seen friends and colleagues go through hard times. I’ve distanced myself from friends who seemed content to only spend time with me as long as they could use me, who took my kindness and hard-won calm and patience as an invitation to take as much as they could get.

As a result, I’ve retreated. I’ve only had energy for some things, and I’ve let go of everything that seemed optional. As a result, I’ve grown lonely, I’ve grown shut in, I would travel to Kolkata every few weeks and spend the rest of my time holed in at home and only going to the office. I haven’t visited my mother in two years. I question my priorities all the time, never sure I’m giving the right things, the right people, enough of my time and attention, always wondering if I’m being too selfish or not selfish enough.

It’s New Year’s Day and I’m in office and I was in office till 8 last night and I’m not even supposed to work on Mondays and Tuesdays and my life looks very different from what I expected a year ago and my carefully constructed part-time job and enough-time-for-life life has slowly broken down. I want to get it back up, but I’m not sure it’s possible.

But yet. Yet.

There’s so much I have to be grateful for.

Nilesh, most of all. Always Nilesh. He’s comforted and loved and waited and advised and cooked and baked and smiled and joked and given me so much of his time and attention and love. Even if I had nothing else, this would make me rich.

Bhuvi, who’s grown from a friend to THE friend. With whom something feels real and solid and not like one rough wind will blow it away. Who’s capable of the kind of kindness and dependability I’d only so far found in Nilesh and tried to build in myself.

My few other friends who’ve been around for a while, and who are family. Whose conversations, presence, silence I can sink into without having to explain myself. Who may not talk to me in months but it doesn’t matter, because we’re both here.

A couple of new budding friendships. Isn’t every beginning and gradual deepening of a relationship so exciting, so full of promise?

My colleagues, especially my team. So much love and gratitude for them, for their brilliance and their youth and their optimism and their kindness. The biggest reason I'm pouring in so much time and effort into my job is because I want to work with them, I want to make things better for them.

Money and privilege. This year would have been so much harder if I hadn’t had a ton of those.

Late in 2017, I got myself two tattoos. Both of them reminders of what I value most: art and love. Reminders of who I am. I was explaining them to a friend recently, and that was a reminder, because even though they’re on my skin, they’re easy to take for granted, easy to ignore. I had another conversation with another friend last month that reminded me that I need to remember my goals, that I need to again reach for the kind of life I want.

So I want to start going back to that this year. Not get swayed – much – by what others expect of me, but do what I want to do. Stop worrying about opportunities and openings and lost chances. Stop living out of fear, and live with love.

I wish you the same.