All that glitters

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We’re lingering in the post-holiday haze of sparkly lights and time spent with real people in the real world. I spent so little time online over Christmas, I almost forgot what it is I’m supposed to do. Tweet this, pin that, read, comment, write. I used my time well, gathering stories here and there, as well as snippets of conversation overheard from my post as chief guardian of the kitchen sink.

The girls and my husband reveled in the bustle–extroverts in their glory–with people, noise, and music floating from room to room on the scent of one gigantic turkey. My son, the most like me in many ways, hid in his room and escaped to the basketball hoop for fresh air, giving him just enough space to show a little peace and goodwill to all men, or admiring cousins as it were. The holidays are hard on the introvert.

My mind is slowly turning towards the new year. As I linger in the old, I find I’m not quite ready to turn the page yet. I have unfinished business with 2013, as if it didn’t consult my wish list when it doled out the presents. I received other gifts, some better than I imagined, but the ones that danced in my dreams at nights, didn’t become a reality.

I am no closer to feeling rooted to a place than I was a year ago. This year didn’t gift me with the sudden desire to stay put and settle down, instead I find myself mourning the loss of my former life abroad. I want to want the American dream, but instead my heart returns repeatedly to Paris, to London, and to Horgen with its soft forest floors of pine needles and horse-trodden paths. I feel like a woman who returns repeatedly to the wrong lover and a tempestuous relationship, one that can’t possibly last because it is built on the stardust of one’s imagination. The wide-open world has been my lover for many years.

I hoped to reach the end of this year and tell you there will be a book with my name in tiny black typeface across the bottom. Instead, I put on my “I’m so happy for you” mask (the one I use to cover up my real face, the insanely jealous one), and congratulated a huge cross-section of people across the web and in my real life who signed with an agent or publisher, or found the job of their dreams after looking for exactly one week. Yes, there has been much sweating from my eyes this year, and that “sweat” has soaked more pillows than I care to admit. I want to be real with you, friends. It is painful to watch other people’s dreams come alive while one’s own withers on the vine.

I decided today, the eve of the eve of the New Year, that these disappointments shall become the compost of my life. I remarked to my brother yesterday, that I have grown a will of steel, largely from aiming for the impossible and seeing a few of my many hopes realized. I see now that this steel-will is built on the back of loss and mourning and unrealized dreams, rather than built on everything that glitters. Beneath the weight of this compost, I realize the thing that glitters most, is me.

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Join me in the comments, and tell me about your year. What shaped you the most?

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  • Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    Thank you for your honesty, Kimberly. Your grief helps me “be no to afraid” of looking my own more squarely in the eye. And grieving, too, is part of moving forward.
    I love how your son has his arm around you and his hand at your elbow – so sweet.

  • Mark Allman

    You do glitter and brightly. The impossible only becomes possible if you reach for it. I believe that steel will of yours will serve you well in a time that is yours alone.

  • Mark Allman

    Great Picture of the family.