Bittersweet New Year’s Reflections

Posted on Posted in Family and Friends, Outdoor Adventures, Reflections on Life

ice on Highland houseIt’s 2013 today.  Christmas came and went, and so did the Winter Solstice.  The days are already getting longer and lighter, pulling Montana toward spring.

But the icicles on our back patio are still growing longer every day.

This juxtaposition of more light alongside more ice complements how I feel as the holidays come to a close.  My excitement grows every day about our upcoming spring-like lifestyle change.  But the sadness of leaving my family grows right alongside it.

The holidays magnified all of these bittersweet feelings associated with leaving.

The Willets and Cassidy on New Years Day
The Willets and Cassidy on New Years Day

Watching my dad don a Santa costume on Christmas Eve, while Rob played with 12 children in Bobby and Joellen’s house made me feel full to the brim.  Spending Christmas day with my parents, Cass and Rob (and Alta, the doggie) was low-key and easy here in Missoula … but extra-poignant, since I was trying to memorize everyone’s faces, comments, emotions.  And spending New Year’s Eve at Hogback Cabin (an old homestead on U.S. Forest Service land along the fabled Rock Creek) with Cass, Rob and a few friends was — as Kelley and Mike said best — the only place I’d want to be.

My favorite adventure buddy, and her sidekick, Alta
My favorite adventure buddy, and her sidekick, Alta

My sister, in particular, will be the hardest to leave.  I just read Cutting For Stone at the cabin, with its story of identical twins who felt like one person: “ShivaMarion.”  Even though we’re not identical, I sometimes feel like “BriCass” —  a meld that will be painfully hard to separate into two individuals.

As one of my friends recently told me, “There’s nothing like an impending departure to give everything you’re leaving a rosy glow.”  So true.  Right now, the winter days don’t seem as grey or cold, small arguments seem endearing, and I forget daily frustrations in favor of sweet reminisces.

We leave exactly 12 weeks from today.  That means only 10 more weeks of work.  And only a precious few weekends — hell, days, even! — to spend with my favorite people and in my favorite places before we sail off.

I felt a bit overwhelmed by that realization, and decided to strap on my cross-country skis to clear my head.  I always think better when I’m moving.

Me skiing from Hogback Cabin
Me skiing from Hogback Cabin

As I clicked into my skis across the street from our house and started gliding toward Rattlesnake Creek, I  reviewed images of the year that passed.  Weekends at cabins, vacation with Cass on Kauai, learning to backcountry snowboard in Canada, dancing on stage in bodypaint to my own choreography, sailing, backpacking, biking.  Countless dinners with friends and family.  Laughing.  Crying.  Laughing until I cried.  Getting married, and being a part of many of our best friends’ weddings, too.

A year to remember.  And be thankful for.  Knock on wood (lots of it).

But my thoughts quickly shifted to the year to come.  My brain slapped me upside the head, and said, “Why are you leaving these people and these places?”

Me and Rob climbing above Rock Creek
Me and Rob climbing above Rock Creek

My heart slapped back, saying, “To grow, and learn, and change.  To make more memories to share around campfires, dinner tables, and parties when we get back.  To let my family grow and change, too.”

The icicles aren’t going anywhere soon, that’s for sure.  And I’ll be writing more about the sadness of leaving.  Yet I also know one thing for certain from my years growing up in season-less Southern California: the ice makes the spring so very much sweeter.

 

 

 

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