There is ice on the ground. I'm walking a dog on the shore of Lake Martin at three in the morning. I’m wearing pajamas, boots, and a queen-sized comforter.
A few minutes ago, Ellie Mae—coonhound and award-winning talk-show host—woke me by whimpering.
I suggested strongly that she go back to sleep.
“Go to sleep,” I strongly suggested.
So here I am. It’s thirty-two degrees, the night is purple. Ellie is sniffing the ground, making zig-zags. I let her off-leash.
“Hurry up,” I plead.
But alas, instead of making tee-tee, she walks—if you can believe this—into cold lake water, paws-deep.
There goes my night.
Anyway, New Year’s is one day away, which makes me happy and sad.
Happy—because time keeps going forward and everything changes. And sad—because time keeps going forward. And everything changes.
Still, this is my favorite time. When everything resets itself. Even people.
I got a hand-written letter from a man in county prison. Let’s call him, Dave. The letter was written on notebook paper, with hand-drawn artwork covering the envelope.
“...Do you think people get second chances?” Dave writes. “Even
after we really flubbed up (not the word Dave used), can we start over again? Or is this just a lie we tell ourselves?”
I’ve been thinking about that letter. I’ve carried it in my pocket for weeks.
I carry a handful of letters with me. One is from a man who wrote me about his late wife. One is from a fifteen-year-old named Myrick. Another is from a nine-year-old, “Griffy of the South”—who shares my birthday. Another from a twelve-year-old girl whose mother died too young. I'm not sure why I'm telling you this.
Maybe it's because I'm so cold I can't feel my brain. Maybe it's because my dog has lost her mind and is wading in the Arctic Ocean.
A few years ago, I brought in the New Year in…