At the beginning of 2020, I posted “Twelve Days” based on comments from people who shared the tradition and those who had never heard of ‘Las Cabañuelas’. The short version as it had once been explained to me was simply, each of the first days of January predicts what the weather of what each month will be. Normally, I had never paid attention beyond January 3, which translated to March. However, 2020 was a year unlike others. It provided if not other opportunities, the time to pay attention, and as if the universe had dared me to do so all along, I had written notes for each of the first twelve days of January. Throughout the year, I returned to the jotted words and phrases in the margin of the 30 day calendar spread in between months in my 2020 planner. The seeming match of my prediction of calendar items to the emptiness of October had piqued my interest to return to reread the blog itself.
“No. Wait,” I said. “December is the time to review the year. We find meaning at the end after we’ve read the entire story.”
“But, you need to help them pay attention to what matters,” a writing coach had instructed years ago.
Maybe. Yes. Maybe. No. Meanings are still our own whether the vocabulary is shared or not, much less the events of the story. I avoided the blog post, but I skimmed through these signposts, chapter headings, but not endings, agenda notes meant to tell the future.
During the last week of December, I opened the file to read the post in its entirety. My eyes glanced across each month foretold in a January day until they arrived at the end. There I read,
“And, that will be the difference, I pondered, sinking into the couch. While I spoke in Hebrew, my niece responded in English. Neither of us provided each other with new vocabulary, but maybe, we gave each other the permission to learn and make mistakes.
Could these observations determine the course of my year, even if not necessarily the individual month that corresponded to the day? It would likely be as accurate as anything, I decided, in these times of climate change.”
Two phrases stood out to me: 1) “we gave each other the permission to learn and make mistakes” and 2) “climate change”. Somehow, even without the specific detail in the daily, 2020’s story read there, first in the individual and second as a collective, even if not in practice, always in hope.
Satisfied with the ending, I returned to the beginning. While I did not remember each month clearly, a few notable connections did stand out.
January had been full of work as I had understood it occurring in an office, dressed in boots and skits, and maintaining categories and ends, I could control.
April had found me isolated at home, but still asked me to be a connection point when others did not have the energy nor the tools.
June had arrived in summer light, longest day and blossoms. Though short lived, I had celebrated initial green tendrils and unfolding petal designs until July cut them down. Derecho winds knocked down doors asking for payment we had forgotten. Protests, blazes of words and timber and bodies. Climate Change. The climate had changed, extreme imbalances in our daily lives and system(atic) gaps and pressures.
November and December dared express both their fatigue and temerity to dream in equal measure. Heavy covers and bags drawn up under our eyes. Still, the darkest of longest nights arrived and passed through. December 21 was now a handful of days behind. A part of me felt anchored to my writing instructor's words, and I sighed at the lost opportunity to have compared each list of calendar items predicted with the lived experience of the month in the moment. The other piece of me breathed in the air left its own space to float. Why did I need such a frame? I had felt the story. I had lived the story. Those who had heard the story simply knew what they knew.
Calendar items told me what to pay attention to before my stories began each day, but did I really understand them better in frameworks and conversations after my notes ended? Even though the calendar is out of dates, I'm unconvinced the story is out of pages. Two phrases still stand out to me: 1) “we gave each other the permission to learn and make mistakes” and 2) “climate change”. Every story, even those told in appointments and journals asks me to know without knowing, at least a little. And like novels, the calendar demands I hold my breath until the next page, to suspend both belief and disbelieving in the plans I make. I bought the 2021 agenda because it holds six phrases on cards I could insert at the beginning, but the ending, thankfully, is still an unwritten item on my calendar like the pile of books on my floor, yet to be read.