Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Hour of 2008

In some (better) parts of the world, 2008 has already ended. The time differences across the world had the biggest impact on me in 1999 when several parts of the world had already entered the new millenium. News stations were calling China all day to ask if the world had ended. Could they not tell themselves?

Earlier I read a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson about the "old year" dying. It was no "Ulysses," but a nice accidental read for today.

I thought I'd take a moment to list some of the things that happened in 2008:

My parents celebrated their 25th anniversary.
I turned 18.
My brother turned 21.
My mom turned 50.
The Summer Olympics were held in Beijing.
I graduated high school.
I began college.
I voted for the first time ever.
Barack Obama was elected the first biracial president of the United States.

Basically, more milestones than should ever happen in one year. In addition, there were more personal milestones for me that I'd rather not write about on here. What I'm trying to get at is that 2008 was a remarkable year. I anticipate a calmer, more normal 2009. Or, as normal as a year can be when you don't know where you're going and every day you discover a new truth, a new friend and a new direction.

Less than an hour left.

I'm home alone. All plans fell through. If I weren't imprisoned by that ridiculous "no driving on New Year's Eve" rule (ok, it's a legitimate rule, but I don't see any of my friends subjected to a similar fate), I could be party-hopping with Clay, on my way to Glen Rose, or taking a last drive with Max before he returns to Michigan.

Is this supposed to foreshadow the rest of the year? Being alone and battling between depression at my missed opportunities and bleak apathy to not care about silly things like New Years?

Last year, I knew what was coming. I was going to turn 18, graduate, start college, vote. There would be the Olympics and election buzz. Sure, it was all scary and an emotional roller coaster, but I knew that going into it.

What does 2009 hold? I have no fucking idea.

So here's me: over analyzing everything and simultaneously convincing myself that there is no cosmological-symbolic reasoning for anything in this universe. Here's me playing the tough misanthrope who sees no reason why tonight should be unlike any other, while I honestly want nothing more than to be at a party with a glass of champagne to toast and a boy to kiss at midnight.

2009 is a prime number. It's not divisible by anything. It stands on its own. Strong? Or lonely? I guess we'll find out at the end of this hour. Except that they already know in other (better) parts of the world. Maybe I'll call up China....Ni hao ma? Qing wen....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rest in Peace

Maybe it was providence that I didn't get more involved with the Student Peace Alliance this semester. As cool as the idea of being so politically active was, I always felt a Department of Peace wouldn't really do anything. I also felt bad because I had selfish reasons for wanting to go to the meetings. Apart from wanting to be a part of a group of kids I thought were really cool, I mostly wanted to go to see that cute senior with the chin piercing who had invited me to the drum circle. He was essentially the president (though Martin was the real one) and he was into all sorts of spiritual ideas and practices I was familiar with.

I'll never forget the night of the first Korouva party of the year. I had too much homework to attend, but the whole crowd of Student Peace Alliance and Korouva people ran through all the halls of Mabee (and the entire campus) banging on cymbals, djembes, maracas and any other makeshift instrument they could get their hands on, screaming for revolution and for the party that night. I watched from the third floor balcony as they shouted their way out of the building. The last one out, pounding his soul into his stout djembe, was the cute boy who had invited me. I punched a revolution fist into the air as he looked back. Then, staring straight at me now, he thrust his fist up with a heart-jarring shout that shook every fiber in my body. And with that, he turned and left behind the others, beating his drum all the way.

He died last night. He was hit by a car while crossing Highway 29.

I never got to know him like I wanted to. I feel almost intrusive to be so hurt by his death when I wasn't as close to him as others, but that just goes to show how unique he was that I can feel so deeply for him after only having spoken to him on a few occasions. He was the one person in the Student Peace Alliance who I thought would really make a difference. Someone I thought I would hear about in a few years, lobbying for that fire in his heart, for peace, for a peace that he never saw.

It seems strange to say "rest in peace," when peace meant so much more to you than a pithy saying. But you are in peace now. A peace we've all dreamt for. A peace you fought for. A peace we will all continue to fight for in your honor.

Your drum will never stop beating.

Rest in peace, Rob Atkinson.