About 15 years ago, I sent an omnibus, holiday-timed update letter to family and friends, mostly back in Connecticut, chronicling my first year in Boston. I thought it was a fair portrayal, neither positive nor negative, but the feedback I got was that things weren't that great and I was depressed. This is, in effect, one of those letters, but I doubt I'll get the same feedback. This has been, I think, the best year I've ever had. Here are some of the reasons:
Punching out: For 28 years, the longest break I'd had from daily employment was a three-week trip to Africa and Israel somewhere in the '90s. No, wait, it was 9 weeks in '91, when all I needed to do to escape the grind was go into rehab. But I separated from the Globe on April 27, and though I liked many of the people I worked with and have stayed fairly well in touch, I sure don't miss the callous indifference of the institution or its leaders. (They never denied they were like that; they just told me not to mind. But I did.)
The trip of a lifetime: Well chronicled in these (web) pages, the driving tour of the Mountain West wasn't an experience I'd longed for, but should have been. Nine thousand miles with myself, renewing frayed acquaintances, taking on challenges, just being present.
Exploring inward, too: Part of the transition from newspapering has been to try to envision what I want to do with the rest of my life — after the baby gets on her/his feet, of course. I've done some networking, taken the Globe's outplacement training, and just tried to imagine. What has surprised me is that I can hope to work in areas that interest me. Heretofore, I've had what interested me in one sphere, and what I did in another. That wasn't so dissonant as it might be for someone else, since my job was to have awareness of many topic areas, but I see now they could actually be consonant.
Amends all around: There are touchstones on the spiritual program that I work — 12 of them — and when the year started, I had been working on the fourth one for more than five years. I am now almost through the ninth one, which advises me to "make amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." I've reached out to perhaps two dozen people, the majority of whom barely remembered me, never mind the offenses which I'd holding guiltily. It has been liberating in manners I wouldn't even imagined.
I "finished" a book: Yes, it's still in revision (one "completes" a book a number of times, I've discovered), and no, I don't have an agent or a publisher, and yes, being a published author would be much better than being "just" an author. But I am an author! I never seriously contemplated that I would be.
Green in action: I recently detailed steps we've taken, but it feels great to have put beliefs into action. Going to Boston Green Drinks has opened a channel to connect with others committed thusly.
A sports year like no other: There have been other eras in Boston sports when lots seemed to be going right at the same time, but nothing like this. Sox win a second title, Pats go 16-0, Celtics much better than anyone expected (I'm a total bandwagoneer, but it's fun to watch anyway), BC was ranked No. 2 for a while. And I got my share of the fun: I got to see the Sox sweep three in San Diego, and the Pats regular-season clincher last night at Giants Stadium.
Five to go: I went to my first ballpark — Fenway, of course — in perhaps 1963 or '64. I don't know at what point I decided I'd try to see them all, though it was certainly before the overhaul in stadia that began with Camden Yards. After hitting seven new-to-me parks this summer, I've now been to more stadia than there are teams, because so many have built anew. These remain: Tampa and Miami, Houston and Dallas, and Detroit. Even in that quintet, I've been to games in Houston and Detroit, but they have rebuilt since. On the horizon are two new baseball temples in New York, and before long, in one in Minneapolis.
I saw Clapton...: and Beck, and Winwood, and Robertson, and Cray, and King, and Mayer, and Los Lobos (but, alas, not Sonny Landreth, who opened the show while I was standing in line for my rental car). Flying halfway across America for less than 24 hours, just to catch a show, is one of the most gonzo things I've ever done, and certainly not something I could expect to do often, if ever again. And not only did I get to attend Clapton's Crossroads Concert in Chicago, I did so for free, on a VIP pass, thanks to a friend. (BTW: I did subsequently send the cost of a ticket to the charity for which the show was organized, a rehab center in Antigua. If I was really being fair, I woulda sent more, since I got more than just entry to the field. "Bragging" about charity isn't the most noble thing I do, but on balance, I'd rather have that said than not.)
I shared my 50th with Georgie's 40th: Dozens of people came to our joint birthdays party in September, and I really was able to feel the riches of our community. Unquestionably, what we have together is more than what we each had separately. Well, no — what I can say, for myself, is that this was a very strong expression of how enriched I've been by knowing Georgie.
It keeps getting better: My working at night was a drag on our relationship, and though we ended up with what Theodore Bernstein might call an "atomic flyswatter" of a solution, G. and I have just been enjoying longer and longer periods of true harmony and love. I've taken on an even greater share of the cooking and shopping, and added the laundry to my chores, but as maudlin as it might sound, I get reward from the caring and support I can give. If it's not obvious to you by now, please note that most, if not all, of the items on this list were made possible or enhanced by Georgie's support and love for me, and though I do feel some obligation — she's still punching a clock, which is precisely why I don't have to — so, so seldomly do I feel like I'm acting out of that, instead of out of the delight of partnership and mutual love. I am blessed.