What is the best news you got this year? The worst?
Once this year, on a single occasion, there was news that inspired and uplifted me, news that was so terrifically wonderful that it made me feel like hugging people in the street. It wasn’t personal or specific to me, and it is the answer to a future question. So I’ll leave it for now.
I’m not sure about the best news that I, personally, got this year. (And what a strange construction: getting news, like it’s something to be physically acquired.)
In retrospect, what has probably turned out to be the best news was my oldest friend saying that we could rent his house in Portland. I remember staring out my kitchen window at the downstairs neighbors’ dog and anticipating his words, hoping the conversation was leading where I thought it was. At the time, it seemed like a really solid option, something that had the potential to catalyze our escape from New York City in a big way. But I didn’t feel relieved or elated; I felt hesitant. I remember thinking, “There would be many things to work out, but surely it would be so much easier than Craigslisting from three-thousand miles away. Hmmm. Hm.”
And it was.
But it has turned out to be so much more than the path of least resistance: We live in a comfortable and cozy place, with front and back yards, in a great neighborhood, with many parks, bars and restaurants.
So what initially felt like an extra thing to consider, one more item on the ongoing list of shit to think about, has turned out to be fantastic.
Just now, I asked RZ: “What was the best news that you, or we, got this year?” He thought. “Maybe the time we heard that renting this house would be an option?”
And then he echoed the other thing that I had been thinking, “But this year hasn’t been full of great news. It’s mostly been bad.”
As great as 2011 has been in so many ways, it’s been tremendously sad in others. While I have done many nice activities, much of the news I have received has been terrible:
- A friend’s baby died.
- All those ended relationships, including that of my own parents.
- The impending loss of my childhood home.
- The Brooklyn Rapist(s).
- Anything emanating from the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government.
All of these things suck in ways that will change the people involved forever and ever. There will be therapy and medication and, in some cases, permanent senses of loss. I so wish one of these was the worst news of the year, but none of them hold a candle to what was. For two days, I felt like throwing up.
And here’s the thing, a few million other people probably felt the same way. Because, like the Best News I referred to at the start, the Worst News wasn’t mine and it didn’t involve anybody I had ever met.
It’s the kind of thing that happens sometimes, and is always inexplicable and horrifying when it does, but it probably doesn’t ruin your week unless it happens nearby. It’s not right, but there it is: Humans are geographically selfish. Without going into too much depth, this summer, a small boy in Brooklyn went missing. When he was found two days later, it was in pieces, some of which were down the street from me. The cops caught the perpetrator, who was not able to shed any light whatsoever on his actions. (Click at your own risk.)
This event did not make me feel less safe, but it did make me feel as if there really might be evil forces in the world — something I absolutely do not believe. Maybe, in part, it’s because it feels like a collective failure: None of the family’s millions of neighbors were able to protect one of the most vulnerable members of our community.