The red polish on her toes was named Firehouse, and that was the reason she’d picked it up at the dollar store. She wanted to feel alive, wanted to feel like her energy was on fire. The morning she left for her new life she had folded herself into a pretzel to carefully apply the lacquer to all ten toes before leaning back against the wall to admire her handiwork.

When the polish was dry, she slipped on the first pair of pants she grabbed from the closet, those baggy white and navy print things that were so comfortable to lounge around in. She laughed aloud, because if only one thing was going to change, it was the amount of lounging around the house she was going to do from here on out. Still, those pants were comfy. And they happened to match the white tank top she was already wearing, sans bra, so she went with it.

Today was a day of fate, and fate might as well control her wardrobe choices as well.

Except for the shoes. She already knew she was going to wear her strappy red sandals, because they’d lain neglected and alone in the back of the closet for far too long. Those were coming on this trip, like it or not. She checked to make sure her toenails were completely dry and then struggled to stretch those straps just the tiniest bit that was necessary for a proper fit.

Buckles done and duffel bag over her shoulder, she didn’t even bother to say goodbye to the place she’d lived with her boyfriend for the past six years. Why should she? It wasn’t like she had a chance to say goodbye when he was in that accident.

She didn’t lock the door behind her as she put her best foot forward on her way to the bus stop and the beginning of her new life.

When the bus arrived, she showed her ticket to the driver and found a spot among the rows of empty seats. They weren’t empty for long; it looked as if nearly every seat would be taken with the mass of people waiting for this very bus.

Within minutes she found herself pressed against the window by an old woman with a shockingly large purse. She absentmindedly wondered how the small woman managed to carry such a monstrous bag.before turning to stare out the window, blocking out the present and focusing on the future.

She wiggled her Firehouse toes in her firehouse sandals and smiled at the thought of better days to come. Endless numbers of better days.

New Year, Old Me

It’s a new year again!

2016 feels different. I told Ian that last night, and when he asked, my explanation was brief: 2016 means it’s twenty years since I graduated high school. 

I feel old. But really, neither mentally old nor physically old. More how did things get this far old. I’ve lived more of my life after high school than before it. 

It isn’t a bad feeling, just mystifying. 

It feels like 2016 should be the Year of Something. It’s the year of the monkey by the Chinese calendar; I wonder if I could make that work for me. 

I know I sound like a broken record, but it feels different. I don’t know how to explain it. I’ve never had a New Year that meant anything to me; it’s always been the same old story. 

Maybe 2016 is the Year of Writing. I’ve already made a goal to publish a collection of short stories. And I have to work on Strange Bedfellows. 

Or maybe 2016 will be the Year of Nothing Special–a feat in itself. No major life changes, no upheavals, no panic and worry and stress. Is that what this feeling is? It’s possible. 

For the first time in a long time, I feel at peace with where my life is right now. I have worries, but they’re normal worries. I have stress, but it’s laughable to me to call it stress with what we’ve gone through the past few years. 

I’ve spent a long time telling myself that it’ll all work out okay, and I think, for the first time, I believe it. At least for a year.

I’m starting it off oddly; I’m taking a hot bath as I type. Skin-reddeningly hot: that’s not me.  

But I stood at the mall for eight and a half hours today, and my feet appreciate the Pecan Pie bath salts pampering.  

So I reflect in the water. 

One year ago, I considered who I’d like to be; I wanted to be hip. I still want to be hip, but I’ve done a pretty darn good job of hipping it up in the past year. I got a tattoo and several new holes in my head. I’m even stamping my nails and have nearly mastered the cut crease. 

Two years ago, I shamed myself for not writing. Two years, and I’m such a different person than I was then. When I read my words, I can’t connect myself to the person who wrote them. I’m different. And it’s good. 

Three years ago, I was hopeful; but again, I don’t feel myself in those words anymore. She was someone even farther back, and not just chronologically. 

Four years ago, my first New Year’s Day at this blog, I was stagnant. And there, finally, I do recognize myself; not because I’m the same, but because today so starkly contrasts with the New Years of yesteryear. 

I have always been depressed on New Year’s Day because nothing is ever new. No new beginnings, no new me, no new you. 

And today, I’m not. 

I like that. 

Nothing special can be pretty special, after all. Especially with fancy bath salts from the Bathhouse Soapery and Caldarium.