And so the New Year limps up my front walk-- no fat jolly baby, is 2022. This Year is thin, gray, wet, and naked. She shivers on my porch, hesitant as to her welcome, as well she might be. The past two years have felt little welcome here, bringing grief upon grief upon loss upon loss. No wonder that she hesitates, dripping.
I stand on this side, and she on that, and we glare at one another through the doorway. The mat on the floor in my front hall says 'Welcome,' and we both understand the inevitability of her entrance. I am no fool, thinking I can hold back the march of time across my doorstep, but for just a brief moment we hesitate and pay homage to the power of the threshold and a householder's invitation.
"Fine," I say. "You might as well come in." She gathers up her stringy, sodden hair, wringing out streams of brackish water and steps gingerly onto the Welcome mat. I can see her give it a brief side-eye. "Well," I say, "You definitely aren't quite what we were hoping for, but now that you're here, we might as well get to know one another."
I hand her a towel, and a blanket, and a glass of rum. She may not technically be old enough to drink yet, but she's probably going to need it, if past experience is any indication. Her two predecessors were quite the boozers-- with good reason. We sit, more or less next to each other, by the fire, and I fill her in on what she's up against, feeling a little sympathy, in spite of my resentment. This poor kid. Is it her fault, really?
"Hey, listen," I say. "I'm not blaming you, exactly. It's just that were all a little worn down, you know? Maybe you could just try and go easy on everyone. At least maybe a couple gorgeous snow days, and then an early spring? And fewer wildfires? Or maybe just only ONE new variant? If you could arrange that, I bet we could come up with some fireworks, or maybe even a parade for you when you're on your way out next December. What do you say?"
2022 looks at me through her lashes (is that a glint in her eye?). She wets her lips gingerly (or did she just lick them?) and gives me a grave, quiet smile (are her teeth POINTED??), and holds out her glass for a refill.
"No promises," she says (is that a low growl??), and stares into the fire.
what have i done