Welcome, 2011.

Image found here.
Happy New Year, my loves. I hope you're all safe, and though tired or hungover, I hope you're all happy. Happy and new. It's fun to see both ourselves and the new year as just that, isn't it? Brand new and clean, freshly plucked from the time continuum like a flower bud, untouched by the toils and meltdowns of 2010 and all the years that came before it. Ready to bloom and surprise us all with what color we will find.

Of course this isn't really the case. A new year on the calendar is not a blank slate and on Monday we'll all be exactly who we are, who we have been. We'll go and do exactly what we've been doing, perhaps with the errant resolution thrown in here or there. (The best I've heard so far is a total avoidance of waiting in lines at any cost, though this was his resolution for last year and it did not work. Sometimes, all you can do is wait.)

And what are we doing, anyway? Does anyone really know? Maybe this is just a question for the young and wandering like myself, but do you have to be young to wander? To wonder? Last night at a sparkly house up on a hill in Bernal Heights, I sat around a kitchen table strewn with empty champagne bottles and dwindling homemade snacks with a small group of big-hearted people, all but one of whom I had just met.

The light and life of the city below us sat patiently in the wide windows and we talked about being proud of who we are even though we don't really know what that means, being something. We agreed on the importance of progress even if we don't know where it leads. We will not be sedentary and unchanging. We will find what is new in ourselves and the world as long as we are breathing. Yes, everyone nodded gravely, yes, this is how best to live.

Just before midnight, our small band of six set off and walked 10 or so blocks to a dance party in the Mission. The crowd was swollen and giddy and agitated and we burrowed our way through to the deepest corner of the club where we danced in a pocket of air and space.

Twelve o'clock came with a shower of champagne and a screaming wish for unity and peace from the woman on the microphone, a squat lesbian with a happy raspy voice and bushy armpits. The life of the party turned out to be this lesbian's aging mother, a woman with a loose gray braid and a gold velvet turtleneck tank blanketing her sagging breasts. She looked at least 70 and she danced with more energy than any of us, her arms reaching and bending toward the low dark ceiling, her eyes smiling and alive.

None of my group really knew each other or what to make of this crowded, grungy party in the basement of a fire hazard, but we just danced and I knew it was a metaphor, moving in the dark like this. Blind, unsure of what we were doing or why, and alone but not really alone.