Our year ended much as it began — yet also so differently.
It began at the bonfire on Orleans Avenue. I had shaved off half my beard and looked like a madman. Xy ran round the fire once for good luck, which was an accomplishment given the advanced state of her pregnancy.
Looking back at the year past, one event looms so large that it tends to blot out almost everything else: the birth of our daughter, Persephone Jean Everpax.
On the morning of February 20th, Xy had a mixup with her car pool. She thought she was driving, but someone else was, and she accidentally left her keys in the car. In the ignition. With the car running. Mind you, we live in the inner city in a neighborhood with no off-street parking. So our car was just sitting there, curbside, idling. I thought Xy was losing her mind.
The following morning her water broke, and twelve hours later our girl was born.
Since then we’ve been experiencing the many joys and trials of parenthood. I’m glad we have some years under our belt or we might feel overwhelmed by it all.
It takes a little effort to recall that some other stuff did actually happen this year. We finished our Katrina renovation, more or less, and reclaimed the lower floor of our house from the floods of 2005 at last. Also, right on the three year anniversary of Katrina, we evacuated for Hurricane Gustav. Fortunately we were spared much damage and ended up with an unexpected opportunity to visit family and friends in Tuscaloosa and Bloomington.
Watching Persephone grow has been the biggest trip of all. Ten months ago she was so tiny and helpless. Now she’s “cruising” around the coffee table, holding herself upright and practicing for her first steps.
In all it’s been a good year for us, a great year actually. I think we will look back on this one with fond memories. We’ve had some rough times, so we’ve learned to cherish the good moments when they come. Global economic downturn? Maybe so, but we’ve got a cute little baby to worry about.
It was a year of refocusing, turning inward — not toward the self so much as toward family and domestic life. I knew with a child on the way I would have to pull back from some of my civic commitments, so I resigned from the board of the Urban Conservancy and the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization. It was a difficult choice but ultimately a rewarding one. I continue to serve as chair for the Friends of Lafitte Corridor, an nonprofit group advocating for the creation of a greenway on an old rail corridor right in the heart of New Orleans.
It’s been a year of exploration and growth. The past months have deepened my appreciation for the power and importance of the rituals and ceremonies that we use to mark our passage through life. Sometimes these are traditional, sometimes we have to invent them, sometimes it’s a blend. One of the highlight of our year was Persephone’s saining on the banks of Bayou St. John, in which we blessed our child and gave her a name.
My work has gotten more interesting than ever. I’m still working in faculty development. It’s certainly not a career option I could have imagined ten years ago, but it’s allowed me to pursue a wide variety of intellectual interests and to expand and grow as a person in ways that are often surprising to me.
As for Xy, she’s continuing to slog it out on the front lines as a public school teacher. I don’t think I’d mind one bit if she found a new career. She works so hard every day, and almost every night and weekend too. It leaves very little time for being a mom, or for much of anything else. But somehow she does it all. She has resolved to start the new year by having her abundant facial hair removed. Considering she just celebrated her 40th birthday a few days ago, it’s a big step.
We’ve come full circle. At year’s end, the bonfire tradition was threatened with extinguishment, which would have made us sad. But at the last minute our neighbors worked out a deal with the city, and the bonfire burned on. Which is great, but we did not attend. It seemed too difficult to bring an infant child. Instead, we lit a candle right in the middle of the street in front of our house. And while fireworks bloomed over the skyline in all directions, we ran around our own little fire, three times, counterclockwise, with the baby wrapped in a blanket against the cold night.
And so our year begins again, in the same way, but totally different. Continuity and variation. A bowl of Hoppin’ John starts the year off right. I made a huge batch and then resolved not to save any. We gave it all away to neighbors on our block. Share the love, share the luck.
We’re so very grateful to all our friends and family who have helped us through the past twelve months in big ways and small. We couldn’t have done it without you. We send you all our best wishes for a fortunate new year.