Well, friends, time to cue up Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” or John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” or whatever song makes you think about endings because “Na na na na, hey hey hey,” this is my last column as a 2021 North State Voice. It has been an honor and a privilege to write for you all — certainly one of the most meaningful experiences of this year. And that says a lot because I also gave birth to my second daughter smack dab in the middle of it all (without missing a deadline, thank you very much!). As I reflect on a year of finding and losing my footing over and over, I am most thankful for the consistency of this deadline every four weeks, to share with you little pieces of my heart. It has kept me going. I’m a sucker for the ritual of the new year’s resolution. To me, it’s a hope or a prayer for meaningful change. A sparkling to-do-list of dreams and goals. Sure, most resolutions don’t stick, but that’s never bothered me. It’s still good to think about what you’ve done and where you’d like to be.
Those of you following along have seen the prevailing theme in my writing is identity. I’ve tried to share how my understanding of my SELF has been shaken. Namely by becoming a mother and by moving back to my hometown after nearly two decades in New York. (Did you think you’d escape a column from me without a mention of the city of my heart?!) What I loved about living in the city was the fast life. I was free. I was living completely for myself. Now it feels like an accomplishment when I get two small humans out the door fully dressed. Even if I almost always forget snacks, I NEVER pack Band-Aids, and there is quite often the scent of spit up on my clothing masked by a spritz of tea rose. I’ve missed my regular writing routine. The early morning hours of fresh creativity. The long showers where I would work out plotting problems. The stuff I could indulge in when it was just me I had to worry about.
I’m more impatient than I thought I was (which my husband gently pointed out to me the other day). I want to be publishing books and teaching at a university again and getting regular manicures and going out to see the live music and art and theater happening in my town and hosting beautiful themed dinner parties and running 5ks and organizing the closet and reading books at the pre-baby pace. Right now! But I’ve been forced to slow down. To find satisfaction in witnessing my baby figure out moving an object from one hand to the other (Do you remember you had to learn this?) rather than crafting the perfect metaphor. To survive the grueling monotony, I have to choose rest over those other exciting things sometimes. I’ve never been more tired in my life.
This column has allowed me the space to continue my writing practice though. And to have an energetic exchange with readers – with my peeps who read everything because they love me (Hi, friends. Hi, Mom and Dad), and with my new community in Chico who are just getting to know me. I’ve put my email address at the end of each column for the further opportunity to connect. I even got an email from the former principal of PV (the OTHER high school!) after my last column. And so many nice messages and words of encouragement from strangers along the way. This year of writing has me thinking a lot about the art of the personal essay. It has opened something new in me. A new spark. New creative wheels are turning. That’s cool.
So, what is my resolution? To keep writing, dang it. And to remember that even when it feels like my dreams aren’t actualizing as quickly as they once were, I am doing a lot. I will always keep reaching, but I can take a breath and look past my messy house that’s full of projects I may or may not get to, and just sit under a blanket with my three-year-old pretending little plastic ice cube balls are magical orbs that have been stolen from the baby princess monster. That’s enough sometimes, too. And slowly, the writing comes back. Because I am a writer. And I must write, or I will explode. No one wants that, right? There’s enough stuff to clean up around here. I’d like to work on the novel that has been neglected. I’d like to find my way back to teaching. And what the heck, I’d like to exercise more, too. Happy New Year!
You can email Bonnie Pipkin at firstname.lastname@example.org