This was the year my son turned 10, bounding toward adolescence, deft with a touchscreen and quick with a humorous retort.
This was the year I returned to Big Sur, the wife and I hiking the hills and combing the beaches and drinking wine above the waves.
This was the year I learned how one dies in the desert, taking a too-long hike on a too-hot day, feeling my body weaken, my water no match for the heat. We could see the car, miles away, a wavering glint of metal. We forced it to grow. We made it home.
This was the year I turned 40, celebrating it with Vegas and my wife and the man who’s been my best friend since we were just a little older than my son is now. He turned 40 three days after me. We ate and we drank and we gambled. And we weren’t too old for that shit.
This was the year I visited North Carolina for the first time, tramping through the streets of Asheville with a poet and a journalist, drinking micro-brews and dining on rabbit and cracking each other up late into the night.
This was the year I finished the third novel I’ve written, the one I hope will be known as my debut.
This was the year my daughter turned 8, skating through a party with other girls and boys, their youth a thing of awkward grace, bouncing when they fell and laughing too, the ground, for them, so wonderfully close.
This was the year my dog died, lasting a few days past his 15th birthday, his old age having become a cruelty, robbing him of his ability to chase tennis balls or climb stairs, leaving him incontinent and embarrassed and pained. The end came with the help of a vet and a needle. I felt him twitch and spasm and go. I do not like thinking about it. I remember him chasing tennis balls, tongue lolling and eyes bright.
This was the year good people were shot from the sky and young men were shot by cops and cops were shot by psychopaths and one of the heroes of my childhood was exposed as a rapist. This was the year of ISIS. Of Russian aggression. Of school kids abducted in Nigeria and murdered in Pakistan. This was the year without consensus. Without courage. Without peace. This was the year too many white people denied the existence of their own racism and too many men denied the existence of their sexism. This was the year of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Of anti-science and anti-religion. Of hating Republicans and hating Democrats. Of name-calling. Blackballing. Facebook fiefdoms and Twitter wars. This was the year we picked at our scabs. This was the year we took a few more uneasy steps towards getting better.
This was the year we got a cat. We love her very much.