The Counting Down of Days

I’ve always been a calendar counter.  When I was a kid, I used to pick something in the future to look forward to and write numbers across the little boxes on my wall calendar.  I’d cross them off with big markered x’s, even occasionally adding a half slash around noontime.  As a now-Buddhist, this isn’t ideal.  The days and moments leading up to a change are not to be scratched off a calendar or discounted as unimportant.

And yet about a year ago, I began counting.  The months at first, then the Mondays, then the workdays.  Last June I could say for certain that I had 12 months left until I could walk away from a desk life.  And even though it had been very good to me, I disconnected from a part of myself.  And so I counted. And I set my sights on the landmarks that would remind me of the passage of the year.  The seasons, the holidays, the little celebrations in between.  I wanted to time to pass so quickly that I discounted the most obvious factor–one that you’d think I would have learned after 30 years of counting–life happens, and sometimes really happens whether you decide to keep your head down and count the hours or not.  A year ago, I saw the upcoming 12 months as just that–time to be passed.  And now that they are gone, I see them for what they were: a year of life changing, earth-shattering changes, troubles, and celebrations.  Long sleepless evenings, beautiful nights of friendship and love, and endless reminders of the strength of a strong community.

To honor a year that never deserved to be counted down on a calendar, here is the year I never expected–the year that lead me to the start of my Camino, or perhaps was the beginning of it in the first place:

  1. A summer when I started getting paid to write
  2. When I got sick, and my bones ached, and my body hung heavily, and my stomach always hurt.
  3. When I spent an afternoon laying in a park and staring up through the trees–making the decision that I needed to return to a life of sun-filled days and creatively fulfilling work
  4. When I discovered that avoiding gluten made me less sick
  5. When I wrote 30 stories for 30 days and raised money for an organization I adore
  6. When I took a film class and fell in love with the process of it
  7. When I stood on the edge of field in Vermont and knew that a huge change was to come
  8. And sat in the dark of the woods on a farm and warmed my feet on the stones around a fire
  9. I started singing again
  10. I made it through a musical theatre audition and felt truly proud–perhaps for the first time ever
  11. When I voted for a female president
  12. When I paced back and forth in the hallways of a friend’s house, watching the election returns and feeling like the walls may cave in at any moment
  13. When I fell asleep crying and woke up and hour later doing the same, and sat to watch the sun rise in terror, confusion, and deep sadness
  14. When I sat on the floor of my coworkers office and we wept to one another
  15. When we filled a bathroom with motivational quotes, protest information, and congressional phone numbers
  16. When I trained with an organization that spreads theatre to those in need, spending three days with beautiful people that reinvigorated my love of teaching, acting, and simply having enthusiasm for life
  17. When I learned to speak up about my political and ethical beliefs
  18. When I realized that none of us have the privilege to stay quiet
  19. When I found my sisterhood
  20. When my house almost blew up, but because I trusted my instincts, it didn’t
  21. When I fell down the steps
  22. When I bought a ticket to France to hike the Camino
  23. When I hosted friends in our backyard and drunkenly marched into the night like a merry band of music makers
  24. When I literally marched in a ukulele parade
  25. When my husband almost got hit by a train crash
  26. When my husband started a theatre company
  27. When I made a short film
  28. When we paid off our final bit of the debt we’ve been chipping away at for 4 years
  29. When I learned to listen to my body
  30. When I gave my notice
  31. When I cried at work and didn’t know where to turn
  32. When I found a great therapist
  33. When I found a more honest writing voice
  34. When I discovered Nora Ephron
  35. When I couldn’t go to the Women’s March but wrote #Resist on a balloon and marched around my living room while drinking a bottle of wine.
  36. When I made peace with my Florida days
  37. When I hosted a combined baby/bridal shower
  38. When I planned a wedding
  39. When I stood in the sun with my husband and friend and we stressed over missing ferns for the flower arrangements
  40. When I lost a dear colleague
  41. When I stood before the athletic center that now includes his name and cried in front of strangers
  42. When I was interviewed on a podcast
  43. When I felt heard
  44. When I felt ignored
  45. When I sat with my husband on a warm night, eating ice cream outside and speaking the little Spanish we knew to one another
  46. When I sang in a dorm room with college kids
  47. When I cried in the back of a theatre at Indecent
  48. When I went to my first live Steelers game
  49. When I sang carols around a piano in the middle of a community of loving New Yorkers, as if out of a movie
  50. When I wrote a play and saw it produced in NYC
  51. When I went to my third Passover seder
  52. When I wrote letters to a set of electoral college members
  53. When I planned a trip to hike across Spain, again
  54. When I sat in a backyard and experienced that long-forgotten level of peace and clarity that I haven’t spotted since 2012, before the desk days
  55. When I cleaned out the hotel where Ben and I were married
  56. When we danced to our first dance song in an old widow’s walk
  57. When I met four new future Camino walkers
  58. When I began to forgive myself
  59. When I began daily meditations
  60. When I became a godmother and an aunt (again!)
  61. When I got a writing title with the word “Senior” in it
  62. When I had so much to look forward
  63. When I knew the fight was still ahead of us
  64. When I realized that it’s time to stop counting down the days
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