The post holiday letdown. We’re first tangled in its bitter tendrils as kids after Christmas. Weeks of fevered anticipation find their ignominious end on Christmas Day’s evening, when, crack-exhausted from an overload of distant relatives, sugary treats, and delighted shrieks at wholesale material excess, you realize glumly that you’ve just had the best fun of the year, and now you have to wait a whole ‘nother year before such dizzying emotional highs and gleeful gluttony and indulgence will be seen again. This dismal notion is almost unbearable, and you pray for time to speed up and put you somewhen else; at any time at all, in fact, but here at the very beginning of the Rest of The Year.

Well, I have been cudgeled in the ear with a heavy thwack of post-holiday blues. The knowledge overtook me today, settling on me with a pall of gloomy finality, that I. Am. Back. Here again, facing all the petty aggravations and subtle pleasures and occasional wrangling with big questions that comprise my quiet, solitary life in Orlando. The trip I’ve been hoping to take for some seven years, that I’ve been actively planning for the last 11 months – it’s over. The wonderful Kiwi I met from whom I hated to have to take my leave – all logical probability would indicate I’ll never see him again. (Though logical probability is not necessarily a match for my foolhardy obstinacy.)

Daily drudgery resumes: waiting in the cool Muzak hush at the bank; politely skirting the dawdling older couple combing through each individual squash at the vegetable store; the ear rattling cacophony of dumping an overflowing container of recycling into the streetside bin; plucking slimy lettuce leaves from the prewashed stuff so I can make a salad; trying to force my wriggling toddler brain to sit down and summarize the news article I’ve been staring at unproductively for the last 15 minutes; vacuuming up cat litter; scooching on my back across cold concrete under the Jetta, fingertips covered in black gunk, trying to determine how to reattach the CV axle, which just disconnected itself completely with an ominous thunk.

There is no jovial toothless gumbooted lush at the local pub regaling me with tales of inducing his father to bet on the horse he was racing as a young untried jockey, cleaning up when he beat the 1 to 38 odds and winning the admiration of the cooly beautiful heroine at the same time. No 12th waterfall was passed by without stopping on the side of the road because I’ve already seen so many waterfalls and I can’t stop at every one, right? No fields of munching sheep, no beflowered alpine meadows, no isolated rural gas stations, no winding drives, no steeply rolling hills. No off-key yowling with the MP3 player at the top of my lungs or gasping at the view as I turn a corner or crest a hill; no baffling new vernacular dropped in barely decipherable accents. No warm hand enveloping mine reassuringly when I get queasy from the steepness of the view or unexpectedly gentle kisses from a mouth that rails so blisteringly against stupidity and hypocrisy.

Nothing now seems new or different: it’s just my life as it was before I left but even less shiny, and with the roster of friends on my stage continuing to shift as life makes varying demands on its players; exeunt, exeunt. Life where I Ieft it, but cold with leafless skeletal trees and watery sunlight. I’m here at the beginning of the Rest of My Year, but wanting to be elsewhen.

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