Casting a quick glance across the rearview

Goodbye, 2016, you colossal shitfuck of a year, as everyone likes to say, but also probably definitely one of the best years of my life, a year filled with new friends and old friends, lovers and road trips and a life-affirming move into an old bakery on the west side of Cleveland, chickens roaming the street like village drunks, a year in which I continued my quest to live a healthier and more mindful life – and sort of succeeded, in that incremental way — a year that I spent running around Edgewater Park and sitting for hours on the great rocks beneath the willow and watching the waves come and go,

a year that began in Madison Square Garden with Phish and, following the show — and what a show it was! – an incredible nine-hour odyssey somewhere in the walled-off gardens of Brooklyn, fire crackling and bottles downing themselves in ecstasy all the while, the sun tilting into morning without a care for what’s to come (strong drink and more music, a leitmotif to guide the year), a year that began with uncertainty about my direction in life (never to be surmounted, mind you, but which resolved into confidence amidst the madness), a year that I kicked the habit of worrying and started reading Epictetus,

a year that climaxed in ecstasy on June 19, Kyrie’s shot – you know the one — the streets filled with celebration and hugs for miles along East Ninth, a year that gave us the citywide migraine of the Republican National Convention, which, to me, meant hanging out with some of the coolest political writers in the country ‘til the wee hours, and which gave us a preview of the Fear that we will need to resist in the years to come, a year that netted us Andrew Miller for god’s sake, a year that deepened my love for Cleveland, knowing all too well that the yang to love’s yin levies a daunting price,

a year that brought me back to the kitchen to moonlight as a cook, working the line with some extraordinarily funny and hard-working people – “getting paid to learn,” as a friend described it —  a year that I’ve spent waking up far too many times in delirium, knowing that there are still a few demons to confront, as there always will be, and a year that brought me great joys in candlelit rooms and in long conversations in the city’s best coffee shops and dives, a year that narrowed the gap between the good and the bad, because sometimes things can be both,

and a year that is ending, thank the heavens, with communion among wise and tasteful comrades in a fight that will transform our years ahead. Goodbye, 2016. I learned a lot from you.

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