I always like to write a few words before the end of the year, especially during the holidays. For all that is Christmas has quite an impact on me – I become melancholy, more aware and in touch with my feelings and with the feelings of my loved ones, nostalgic, and romantic. I can see the beauty more clearly, as well as the blessings, but also the ugly, and the painful. It’s almost as if all that happened before December 1st swiftly flashed before my eyes, for me to forever remember.
So to write this essay I looked back at what this year has been, what this year has brought, built, and also destroyed, and taken away.
As I shared a few days ago on social media, I have finally finished my new book – an anthology of revisited essays from my blog written between 2012 and 2017. The book starts in the month of January 2012, with my encounter with Leonard Cohen, and it ends in the month of October of 2017, with the passing of Tom. Looking back wasn’t much of a choice.
Around this time last year, I went to see Stevie Nicks for the first time; getting to know her, since then, has had a dramatic impact on my writing, and on me as a woman. I also saw the Nutcracker for the first time, at Royce Hall, and then flew to Italy with Ben, right in time for Christmas.
Around this time last year, Ben and I decided to try once more to have a baby, after a number of traumatic events and a failed fertility treatment. I was very scared, I was angry, and yet I had some hope left in my pockets.
Around this time last year, I sent the first 20,000 words of my book to my agent. I was confident I would publish that work soon.
I had no idea that Tom would suddenly leave us — Ben and I had often dreamed of bringing our little one along on the next Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers tour, make him or her part of the big family, hear their amazing songs, meet the guys, the crew, Tom. We had no idea that California would burn more violently than ever, and that Puerto Rico would face possibly their hardest challenge. We knew that the United States had made one of the biggest mistakes in its history by electing Donald Trump, and yet I think that — naively — we never thought that he would damage so thoroughly America’s already faltering standing in the world, and that he would so quickly awaken feelings of hate, of separation, of nationalism, misogyny, and of war.
Today, as I look back at this time last year, I am 39 weeks pregnant with our first child, a daughter. I am dealing with grief as I never have before, I have finished a book that has nothing to do with those first 20,000 words I had turned in, and I don’t have an agent.
“Things were better in the past…” I used to say.
“But better for whom?” Patton Oswalt said to Terry Gross on Fresh Air, on November 27th.
Yes, for whom? Not for women, not for people of color, not for the LGBT community…
I tend to always excel at noticing the dark in the present, while glorifying the past. But this year I see things differently – perhaps because I am about to become a mother – or perhaps because Christmas makes me more aware, as I said, more sensitive, and in touch with my feelings, and with the feelings of those around me.
So now, as 2017 comes to an end, I can see light amid the devastation, courage amid the fear and the oppression, and the awakening of the new generations amid the incessant effort of politics and corporations to isolate us, in terror, and ignorance.
I can see the brave women on the cover of Time Magazine, the undocumented immigrants that were brought to the United States as children fighting for their rights, police wearing body cameras so that we can all see the injustice and the violence that people of color have been subjected to for years; I see peaceful protests taking place in every American city, the majority of states actually committing to the Paris Climate Agreement when the President decided to pull out of it, and the hope for a renaissance after the new dark ages we are experiencing.
A few days ago, during an interview, I was asked what I would give my daughter to make sense of this world. And it is the ability to find silver linings. I would like her to be able to look back, every year, and see what darkness has brought to light.
And this is also what I wish all of you: to try and see what darkness has brought to light, and to give it away, to give back, to inspire, aspire, accept, and to be kind.