Twenty years ago, I toasted the first dawn of the new year alone from the quiet solitude of my porch on Ohio Avenue in Warren, Ohio. I was truly on my own for the first time in years, having moved two counties north over Christmas week. Previous attempts had failed. I needed geography to help me break free from an unhealthy relationship with a man who had divorced me twice.
My excuse was my car, an old beater that I had purchased at a yard sale for $500 and kept running with prayer and a Chilton’s book. The daily commute was too much. If my car broke down, if the winter was too harsh, if I could not get to work, I could lose my new job… I needed to live within walking distance to the firm that had hired me just months earlier to do electrical drafting and design.
It was a good excuse. Jobs were hard to come by, especially for women in Appalachian regions of Ohio in the late 1980s and early 90s, and one of his excuses to divorce me the second time was some nonsense about how he needed a wife who could work, that it was too hard to survive on one income, and his buddies had told him that it did not matter what my scholastic accomplishments were, the fact was that no one would ever hire me. In time, I tripled his income.
I cannot remember if I painted that first year. It was the first year I could, so maybe I did?
I know I did the next year, and for years thereafter. I had this idea that whatever you are doing on New Year’s Eve is what will set the tone for the new year, so I would set up an easel with a fresh canvas and paint through the night. Then, as birds chirped anticipation, I would make myself an Irish coffee and slip outside to wait for the first rays of light so I could toast the dawn of the new year.
Some years were bitter cold, crisp and frosty, or blanketed in snow.
There is no snow this year. The sun is bright. I have not painted since before Winsor & Newton discontinued their Finity line of acrylics, so buttery and smooth… I haven’t tried their new line.
Last night, I took my granddaughter to First Night Youngstown so our New Year’s Eve celebration included face painting, African dancers, pizza, ice sculpture, origami, balloons, clowns, and two fun packed trips to the Oh Wow! Science Museum for Children. We walked back to my apartment here in downtown Youngstown before 8:30 and she was asleep by ten.
As for this grandma, I was snuggled warm in my own bed texting with an old friend when the ball dropped at midnight, drifting out soon thereafter.
Twenty years and seven moves later, I am still on my own.
A lot of changes have come and gone. I have survived and thrived, crashed and burned, been up and down and turned around. Yet, tick tock life goes on. Good things are coming.
Alas, it is 2015.