You fill me with so much hope and so much worry. You are going to be a year of doing, creating, and protesting. But how much can change? And how much will be good change? Your predecessor has left much to improve on, from race relations to our so-called president to extreme terrorism to the fate of an uncensored internet to the sexual assault allegations that just won’t stop piling up. Yes, 2017 pissed me off a little bit. A lot.
Let me begin by saying that I don’t blame you personally, as a year just exists to hold in its 365 hands all that happens. But 2017 seemed to be a step in the wrong direction, like a glitch in the system of our history. Our country, built by immigrants, elected a man so keen on their demise, the word fascist got a chilling update. And as I bid my own teary goodbye to my beloved Obamas, the whole government seemed to go through a process much like evaporation, slowly trickling away and then condensing into something new entirely. A gas. Yes, our government had become a toxic gas, with a globally-warmed cherry on top. I try to look at last year positively, but it doesn’t feel right. Children were ripped out of their families’ arms because of a few pieces of paper. Because the home of a person fleeing danger should depend on a form or the signature of authority who doesn’t even want them there in the first place. The airports flooded much like Puerto Rico and Florida and Houston. And in all these instances, our government denounced the problem or did nothing. The air of our country changed. White extremists crawled out of hiding. A swastika was painted on the wall of my neighborhood mural. Our flowers all began to wilt.
So I ask you, 2018, for a little more light, as it’s been so dark. I ask you for a year where people don’t have to worry every night about being kicked out of their homes. I ask for Planned Parenthood to stay healthy and alive, supplying our humans with the necessary resources for being healthy and alive themselves. I ask for a year where more and more women, men and non-binary folks are comfortable sharing their sexual harassment stories, because it’s obvious these painful truths need to be shared. I ask you to make us wake up and listen. I ask for cleaner air and water for Flint and all the other Flints of the world. I ask for more films that defy stereotypes. I ask for books written by authors from all walks of life. I ask for people like Cintoia Brown to find justice. Our prison system could use some work, 2018. I know we can’t change everything in a year, but I ask you to be a better attempt than the last.
Personally, I seek for myself clearer intentions with everything I do, and purpose to my relationships with others. I loved and hurt and got hurt. My people drifted in and out of the realm of my world, and I found that it was so much harder to let go than it was to hold on, but once I did I could breathe again. And I need you, new year, to grant me the strength that I lacked last to move on, to pick myself up and say my goodbyes and go. There is so much that I’m going to be leaving behind, so much I have already let go of: my little blue house, my students in the mountains, someone I thought fate had brought me to, my childhood bed. On this path towards self love that I know is going to last me a lifetime, I hope you can be some sort of shortcut. Not one year in my 14 have I looked in the mirror and seen bare beauty. When I was little I used my brain to bolster myself up. Now I use self awareness or empathy or some form of both, but it is never just me, feeling beautiful when I wake up or before I drift off to sleep. There have to be measures taken, changes made, in order for me to be comfortable in my skin. Beauty radiates from within, so first who I am must be made clear, and you are going to test that in more ways than one. Can you show me how to simultaneously love my freckles and strengthen the kindness I show others?
This year, I am going to say my name like it is the most beautiful thing carved from turquoise, to exist. Hebrew and derived from the word for friend. I am going to do just that, and surround myself with these beautiful friends that give support and nourishment when my flower wilts. I am going to walk through the conservatory and tell the other flowers how much I love them, as I have hoped someone would do for me. I am going to burn more incense for every day’s worth of fresh starts. I am going to dance to fun music. I am going to sing in every uber, even, and especially, when I don’t know the lyrics. I am going to need this security with myself as I take on a whole new life, and carve out a different path, but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Mr.
Obama taught me that. I think you can, too, 2018. You can be our year.
Ruth Elizabeth Zolla