Dear January 2014,
Your last sky was streaked and strange. I listened to too many songs, I made myself drunk on them. Though I can usually hold my music, I easily went in over my head. After weeks of leafy gutters and littered lightening, a new leak through a tin roof, the heavy drink of flash floods, the wet rubble and fog of days, I’m here to hang myself out to dry.
The New Year. Like an old pencil sharpened again with the same center exposed or a paperclip bent strange right out of the box. I remember other letters from January chattering on about Janus, Roman god of doors and passages, full of some palpable sense of where and how to begin.
I had another muddled dream last night- but still woke up remembering one part too clearly. I often have dreams where I am intently reading a book and halfway down the page I look up- and then, I wake up. It’s much more startling and unnerving to wake up this way than it sounds. I have always been prone to fantastical dreams- but when you wake up in the middle of some aggrandized or apotheosized battle or from flying over luminescent oceans or glistening jungles- you can take an easy breath. You know you were dreaming and there’s something completely settling about waking up. But when you were just reading something, and you blink and you’re somewhere else entirely, maybe someone else entirely- it can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
A lot has happened since I last sat down to write a proper letter. And I should say- it all mostly seems like a muddled dream now, except for that one part I still remember too clearly.
My mother was born on January 1st and this is my first year without her. I’ve been walking late into the evenings trying to walk off the past few years, like an argument I lost and am still sore about. Yesterday, I brought a giant field grasshopper on my back into my small kitchen. We spent the next few minutes chasing it around the room until we caught it between a glass jar and the electric bill. I walked it outside to the ferns outside and imagined it adjusting a vest and waistcoat as it hopped onto a brown leaf to sail down the lane gutter like the great Mississippi.
I remember this great old cartoon growing up with a variety of dancing insects in 1920’s suits and dresses. I believe I still have it somewhere on a dated VHS tape in a box or attic barrel. I suppose I was always fascinated by worlds just small enough to escape my notice.
The Hawaiian jungle around me has recently been invaded by singing coqui frogs. Their collective whistle is like a fullscale broadway musical, the ringing of church bells and custom car horns in traffic and construction workers that you have to crane your head around to find. People hate them because they chorus well into dawn- but they didn’t grow up in the Caribbean above the local zoo with a lion pit and parrots. I could always sleep through the traffic sounds of the jungle.
The surf grew eight feet tall on Christmas day and stayed that way for days washing out beaches and taking out ramps and docks. The roads on the island have been ridiculous and managed to swallow a whole truck on the last day of the year. But I have seen a rainbow almost every day of the new year- which means there’s real sun somewhere close. Every afternoon unbuttons these scraps and pockets of strange light. Pockets? Why not. It’s an old faithful jacket of sky. Yes. It still keeps the rain off.
Because of the ongoing floods, I finally drove across the new road over the back of the mountain. It was wide with strange red flowers that reminded me of algae on the sea floor. It did me a world of good, better than any sleep or food or drink or fine conversation- just to take in new sights on an island where you know all the roads.
I am far too weary and distracted as yet- and should not be writing, calling, texting, standing up or walking around. I should not be driving so many places, should not be taking so many photographs, or telling myself that I make any sense. In fact, it might be good to consider that I am going to be full of nonsense the whole year through.
This month we bought a wide red crate for the top of the fridge. I pinned a paper sign to it with the words ‘à la vôtre‘ written in charcoal on the front. We’re keeping wine bottles in it for future holidays and happy occasions. I had this image of drinking and toasting and celebrating- even though I blinked and the big holidays are over for now. I’m not sure, I think people toast after a lot of things are over- after the deal has closed or the house has sold and everything has already happened.
In any case, the bottles are in the right place. I’m going to forget about them for a while. This is completely for the best. It’s probably going to be a while before I’m popping any corks. Plus, I seem to recall that a speech is usually required, and I genuinely couldn’t say where I’d even begin.
floods and frogs,