I listen to National Public Radio whenever I am driving…or I used to. Now my teenage daughter likes to take the radio hostage. I let her. She has declared herself “emo” which means she likes to withdraw from the world and do her own thing. I’d be fine with that except that she’s withdrawing from me. I don’t like that at all.
Years ago, the Girl and I heard a report about superstitions, namely one about saying the words “Rabbit, rabbit” the first thing upon awakening. No other words. Just those two. On the first day of the month for good luck.
Superstitious I am not. I am a woman of faith, but I don’t care about Friday the 13th or the number 13 at all. If anything, a Christian friend said that the number 13 is her lucky number because 1 is for the one true God and the number 3 is the trinity. I don’t worry about walking under ladders unless someone is on them or a bucket is precariously set on it. Black cats don’t bug me. Frankly, I just don’t care.
I will admit, though, a year ago, I woke up on New Year’s around 2 in the morning and I whispered “Rabbit, rabbit” into my pillow. I had a great year. I did have some saddening moments. I had to put Loki down.
I also had some remarkable experiences.
Last night, I woke up at some early hour in the morning and, once more, I whispered “Rabbit, rabbit” into my pillow. I woke up later and did a mental prayer and then, just for good measure, I whispered “Rabbit, rabbit” to the air, to the encroaching gray morning light, to my snoring husband, to my Leia-dog who was curled up with her back pressed into mine.
I have no faith in a pair of words that are about rabbits. But I enjoy the myth, the rush of excitement when I remember to say “rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of each month. I enjoy the silliness of something and nothing and just the idea of “good luck.”
And I really am not superstitious.
I am also not one for celebrating the new year. Last night, I did stay up to midnight not because I cared but because I was playing Lego Lord of the Rings and was trying to figure out how to destroy the brilliant, silver Mithril bricks. Neighbors set off fireworks and poor Leia trembled and went into a doggy anxiety attack. She curled up on my chest and burrowed her head into my neck and I talked to her, stroking her head, rubbing her ears, and telling her how much I loved her.
But I do somehow love the sense of newness, this moment at which the world awakens with a new horizon and I am part of it and am reaching out to grab a hold of the newness.
I spent the day in my kitchen making meals for the week. As one meal percolated in my InstantPot, I prepped another. My daughter uncurled herself from her position on the couch and joined me and the distance fell away and we chatted, we lived in silence, we worked next to one another and the world was perfect.
After five or so hours, I had five meals for the week. I am ready to return to work except that I haven’t graded more than 25 essays out of 120. Oh well. I have a long week ahead of me. I will get everything done. I regret nothing about the last 2 weeks when I could have graded roughly 8 essays a day and, instead, focused on my family. My husband and I went to a town where I dream of us retiring. He didn’t fall in love with the town, but he understands why I want to live in the mountains.
I played video games with my children. I read a couple of books. I started reading Mary Oliver’s book of collected poetry and I basked in her language.
I slept. I rested. I curled up every day with Leia and let the world unfurl around us.
Today, when the last meal had been cooked, I wandered through my house and took inventory of my teaching materials. I will be going over logical fallacies tomorrow. I am ready for the day. I am ready for next 98 school days until graduation. Yeah, it’s in June. But I only count the school days. The weekends, the holidays are mine. Even if I grade on them, they still belong to me.
I stood by my front door and looked out the glass door to the pear tree just in front of the porch. A cheeky red cardinal fluttered from branch to branch, eating the stunted fruit clinging to the tips. He’d look at the house, possibly seeing me through the window, check that I was only looking and would resume snacking. The intense red of the cardinal’s breast and wings stood out against the dull grey-greens of the wintering grass, the dullness of the passing storm clouds.
He was a vibrant reminder of the newness of this day, of this year. The way he flitted through the branched webbing, his rustling wings, his staccato movements spoke to the urgency within me. I am ready for this new day, this new year.
I don’t know why. I am merely returning, tomorrow, to the routine of the school year. This is January. We will likely have snow days somewhere in the next six to eight weeks. I am helping with the spring drama…another routine from the last three years. I have been teaching my current course for almost ten years. I know what to expect. I know what to do. I have the routine.
But I feel this clinging newness. This moment when saying “rabbit, rabbit” under my breath is this invocation of the newness. I will burrow into the newness, cling to the sense of wonder that awaits me. I will live. I will live. I will live into the days and the year. The world is full of muted wonder, like a cheeky cardinal dipping and diving within the branches of the leaning pear tree in my front yard.
And I am ready to take my place within it.