Get Out of the Water

by Leah Reich

The thing about 2014 is that, despite what we have been led to believe all our lives about time and calendars and holidays, we can end it whenever we want to. I live in the Bay Area so you’re maybe thinking: Is this some disruption bullshit? Is this about Gaia and our earth rhythms? I mean, in a sense yes, but so is everything these days.

At the end of 2013, sometime at that point in December when we float hopefully toward the clean slate of the new year on a sea of “best of” lists and cries of “fuck this year, it’s been the worst,” I decided that I’d had enough — of 2013, of all the things that had happened in the months that defined the year, of the way I felt. Contrary to popular belief, last year was just as terrible as this or any other year. People were awful to one other. We lost jobs, became ill or injured, disappeared, died. Authority figures and those in power abused those below them and got away with it, were even celebrated and pushed onward to greater heights in their lives. We spent that chunk of time doing what we do every year: Thinking each separate year is somehow distinct from the one that precedes or follows it, thinking the next one would be better.

And so one day I decided that was it, time to wrap 2013 up and move along. We were going to do better, or at least I was, and anyone who wanted to join me was very welcome. Some random day in December, I declared my own 2013 had ended.

I thought about how a year or two earlier, on New Year’s Day, I’d run into the frigid Pacific Ocean on a beach with a bunch of other lunatics, and how the cold water had woken me up in ways I didn’t know were possible. The ocean was vast and we were just at the very edge of it, screaming and laughing. For once I thought: There has never been a better time to be alive than right this minute. When we came out we bundled up, drank bourbon and champagne, laughed at the babies and kids who rolled in the sand with us.

That’s all there is, really. We can get out of the water any time we like. It’s alright to do it alone, but it’s probably better if we start doing more things together.

Photo by Paul Vincent

Never Better, a collection of essays from writers we love, is The Awl’s goodbye to 2014.