The longest week is December 25-31. Christmas is Christmas, and then it’s the bottom of the year’s exhale until the door of the new year opens. Everyone is digesting their food. It’s when you finish up things that are nearly done, theoretically. I know a funny name for this week, but it’s inappropriate and I’m not going to write it here. Maybe you know it.
My parents have never hosted Christmas, but they are today, in Puyallup. It is nice. This is also the second or third snowy one I’ve ever seen.
Jane and Sarah show up with a bag of junk food and gift cards and a roll of Saran wrap, which Jane wraps into a big candy-studded ball. Then all 23 or 24 of us sit in a big circle in the family room, and we wear oven mitts and try to undo the ball to get the candy out before the person to their left rolling dice gets doubles.
Anne makes lemon bread she says she ripped off from Starbucks, but it’s way better than Starbucks.
Once everyone leaves, Kate dyes my hair dark brown and we watch a movie called… I already forgot the name. It’s about a woman who works at a department store and her boss fires the Santa Clause, but turns out he’s actually the real Santa. The boss is played by Ashanti. In all those movies, you know someone’s evil when they hate Christmas or does what Ashanti does, which is replace Santa with gyrating shirtless men in red pants.
I’m back working at Mabel. It’s nice to be there.
Jesse, another barista, stops by with his dog Daisy. Jesse announces that he doesn’t like the word “music.”
“I prefer ‘tunes,'” he says.
I listen to the Lumineers album Cleopatra three times in a row at the end of the day. The song Angela reminds me of the lady named Angela I met on the Camino, and I wonder what she’s doing now.
After work I pick up Ashley and we meet Mom and Kate downtown. We exchange some of our clothes near Pacific Place. I trade some shoes that didn’t fit for a long yellow and black floral dress with a slit up the center and full sleeves. David joins us and we eat dinner at Gordon Biersch. The waiter offers us women grapefruit mules, but I tell him no because I already drank a mule once today. Which is true.
Before work, I go to Carkeek Park and walk around for an hour. It feels good to be moving and to be in the woods. It only takes ten minutes of walking before I start getting ideas about things I’d like to do or make. I walk and write on my iPhone. Everyone else at Carkeek seems to be there with their dog, except one man is alone, running in basketball shorts and chunky woolen mittens.
In the afternoon, I call a mechanic at 4:00 and ask if he has time to take a look at my car before he closes shop at 5:00.
“Could you have called a little later?” he asks gruffly. Then he laughs really hard at his joke. He asks what kind of car I have.
“It’s a ’98 Buick Regal. It was just given to me.”
“Ah, the gift that keeps on giving! No, I can’t tonight, but you can bring it in the morning and I’ll help you out.” I hang up smiling. The mechanic sounds nice, and the Yelp reviews are glowing.
At night, I go to David and Ashley’s. Ashley and I work on a 1500 piece puzzle and watch a documentary called Discovering Bigfoot. Ashley is skeptical and keeps making good points I assure her will be covered, but they aren’t. I’m skeptical but I want to believe. David, too. Sure, there’s something taking apples off logs and leaving prints, but why can’t anyone find Sasquatch scat, or a dead body?
I take my car to the mechanic. In the garage was a big white dog named Ben. The mechanic says Ben is from Texas.
“In Texas the dogs roam in packs, and they don’t fix them!” he tells me. “I was north of Dallas, in a rural area, and there were lots of dogs, and everyone buys their stuff there at swap meets! I was like, this is unbelievable, but you saw people buying, you could get everything from a goat, to a, a dog, to really cool handmade things. Texas is something.”
I tell him that I’m going to Texas tomorrow.
“Well, shit, I hope you’re not taking this Buick!”
I walk home and pack. It feels good to get the green 45+10 Deuter pack from the closet. I wish I could go farther and for longer, but it also hits me as I’m folding my clothes that I’m going to see my old World Race mates. That’s why I’m going to Texas: three years after landing in America at the end of our 11-month trip, we’re reuniting to welcome 2018 together. It’s a very happy trip.
A lot of them are married now and a couple have kids, and I get scared that I’ll compare myself to them and feel inferior, even though I don’t really want kids right now and my life is plenty big and lovely without a boyfriend. But I’m probably not the only one who struggles with comparison.
At work, a tall guy with a perfect face asks me how I spend my free time, how my Christmas was. He disarms me. When he leaves, I crouch behind the counter to look at my reflection in the espresso machine. My face is so red.
I get an email from a dance studio that’s opening in Shoreline in January. They’re offering free classes for a month, so I signed up for three. I haven’t taken dance classes since college except for the occasional swing or salsa lesson, and now I’ve booked two beginner tap classes and one flamenco.
I wake up early and take the bus downtown. I feel smug, sitting on the bus in my bright clothes, clearly not bound for an Amazon office.
I transfer at Westlake Station for the light rail to the airport. I’ve just realized that I’m flying to Dallas but staying in Midland, which means I get a five-hour road trip across a state I’ve never visited with some of my favorite people in the world. I can’t stop grinning. It feels really, really good to be moving.
The security line is moving quickly when a TSA agent pinches the queue (his words) and we have to wait for ten minutes, just standing there. He says he’s going to bring in a canine so the line will move faster. The people at the front of the pinched queue all have their panties in a wad because they just missed getting through.
When the dog finally comes, the agent tells us that the canine’s name is Caddyshack and he knows if we’ve been naughty or nice. Caddyshack is rolling around on the floor and his handler is laughing at him. Once he gets his act together, the line moves again.
“There are lots of open lanes, folks,” says our agent. “Just like the Cowboys’ defense. There are lots of open lines, just like the Cowboys’ defense. You two lines are gonna merge like you’re supposed to on the freeway, just like the guy on I-5 didn’t this morning.”
And here’s where I’ll leave you.