In a new light

The wind came out of nowhere and yellow leaves rained down in the sun. One got stuck on my black winter coat, like a brooch. A newborn was crying, the parents, seated at the table behind me, spoke soft words to reassure the baby that was wrapped in warm layers and so tiny she fitted in the space between her father’s body and his fluffy jacket. It was cold but not too cold to sit outside in the sun, the waitress who always looks stern and some days ignores me, smiled at me today. A new year, people seemed happy, maybe because of the sun, maybe because of the new life, maybe because the one that ended is behind us.

I don’t care for new year’s eve, I care more for the moment the longest night ends and the sun comes up at the same time it did the day before but sticks around a minute longer. I crossed the square where I am drinking my coffee now that morning 20 minutes before sunrise, when all the birds are gathered in the trees that just now shed their leaves and sing under a dark blue sky that will turn pink in minutes. It is not a holiday, it is an event without pressure because it is a natural event. No presents need to be bought because the light after the dark is the present. Winter still lies ahead but the days are getting longer again. You can call that hope. Or joy. Something to hold onto. Not something to lean into.

Celebrating the returning of the light, which in my case was nothing more than bearing witness, being present when the sun appeared over the line that separates the sky from the sea, is easy on your own. New Year is a different story. Choosing to not celebrate, or celebrate on your own, is scary when the whole world around you does and you’re in the middle of a city, not because you feel left out (and I wasn’t, because there were plenty of invitations) but because it can be discomforting to be different when you’re not in a quiet place, even when you’re in a tranquil state of mind.

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