I have a lot of hopes for 2014. Athletic pursuits, like pushing myself from the half-marathon distance to my first full marathon. (I’m registered for the 50th Anniversary Rotorua Marathon in May. Yikes!) And becoming a better surfer. And of course there are hopes for many happy family moments, more calm and patience as a mom, and planning more long weekends around New Zealand.
In addition to those, I look forward to the coming year and in particular, pursuing an artist’s life, through writing and music. I begin here. Now. Starting the year with a post. Writing. Finding the minutes to articulate my life and right here, translating the experience of an expat’s life into words. That feels like work, but good, important work that is necessary if I want to continue to see myself as a writer.
What seems less like work and more like play is the prospect of taking up the guitar again. I’ve been playing the ukulele seriously for the last year. But I feel its limitations. So I’m thrilled to be playing the guitar from my teenage years, the one that has been sitting in its case in the closet of my childhood bedroom, the one that my dad kindly lugged all the way from Chicago, through 4 different airports to bring it here to me in Gizzy. It is with tender fingers that I type this out, since the callouses from the nylon strings on my uke were little match for the steel strings of my guitar. But it is a tenderness that I welcome. I’ve been stumbling through some songs over the past week, re-learning the old guitar chords, and it warms my heart that last night, on her way to bed, Thora and I caught ourselves singing some lines from the Zombie’s version of “This Will Be Our Year,” one of the songs that I’ve been practicing. And as we got to the end of the line, she said, “Mom, you’re really getting good at that song.” Bringing music into my kids lives… well it doesn’t get much better for me.
It’s noon now on New Year’s Day. I’m writing and have my eye on the guitar for a few minutes of practice before everyone descends on the house. Sean is out getting a last minute tire (tyre) put on our car. And my dad and step-mom are off with the kids somewhere. Tomorrow we’re off to watch the beach horse races up at Tologa Bay. And then we’re off to Queenstown for a week. And so it with the new year that we finally step foot onto New Zealand’s South Island.
So what does it mean to be celebrating our second January 1st (1 January) here in our new home? Well, last night after we’d finished eating a celebratory birthday dinner for my step-mom, we walked outside to show them the Southern Cross, the constellation that is visible only from the southern hemisphere. What does it feel to be well into the second year of our southern hemisphere life? The sky is still a jumble of constellations, a confusing and yet stunning view of the cosmos. And yet, we know exactly where to look to spot the Southern Cross. We’re finding our way. It’s beautiful and yet unsettling.
The sky is a cloudless blue today. It’s a good day to be in Gizzy. Happy New Year. And off I go to the guitar.
“The warmth of your love is like the warmth from the sun. And this will be our year, took a long time to come…”