Yesterday afternoon on my way home delicate snow crystals gently dusted the sidewalk. Due to the dry climate, it rarely snows here in the lower altitudes (7000 feet), so I didn't think much of it. A few hours later I emerged from the front door to find that it was still snowing, a tiny layer had accumulated on the surface of the roads, sidewalks, trees, and bricks.
I know the last part of that list is kind of odd, but bricks are really quite a phenomenon here. Because there is never-ending construction in Chinese cities, and particularly in our slightly rundown Eastside part of town, there are often building materials piled all over the place. Our part of town additionally features many piles of rubble of the hundreds of houses and tiny storefronts that are being demolished to make way for "development". I noticed as I was walking last night that the thin layer of snow blanketing the piles of brick rubble gave them the eerie feeling of ruins.
Apart from those ruins of the recent past, everything else looked new. Even as I was walking, I knew it was temporary. Soon the tread of boots, the trace of dogs, and the dim neon of drunken urination would sully the shallow purity glowing around me. Nonetheless, it was a fitting sight for the start of another year.
As I was walking around 7 p.m. on the first day of the year in China, the denizens of American Samoa were ringing in 2011 in whatever style Samoans celebrate. Except for two tiny Pacific islands on the very edge of the international date line, practically the entire world was artificially united by our clumsy demarcations of time. For all the disharmony in this world of ours, those few moments still descend upon us in which we feel that, somehow, there is a chance for a new start. It is in these moments where we are faced with a difficult question - do we dare to hope?
I am looking forward to and hoping for some things in this new year:
*Scoring respectably on my first national Chinese proficiency exam
*Securing a longish term residence here in Western China
*Taking concrete steps toward the completion of a significant writing project
*Attending the weddings of two of my favorite people (Natalie Ray and Alexis Harmon)
*Learning how to cook at least five Chinese dishes
*Losing enough weight to wear red leather pants
*Thinking better of wearing red leather pants
*Ending my five year absence from New York City
*Attending a Food for Thought reunion of some sort
*Talking to kids who were just babies when I left the States
*Writing and recording at least three songs
There are of course many more things that could be on this list, but I wanted to leave room to tell you that if you are reading this I am most likely more grateful for your friendship than you realize. As I'm cresting 30, sleeping in a bunk bed and still in school without letters behind my name, I have become certain that I will never have much in the way of money. But there is this - I am well loved and feel rich beyond measure. I pray that you may all be rich in love in 2011!