In 2007, I celebrated New Year’s Eve by scrubbing my kitchen floor, the idea being that I would give my attention completely to the task. Whenever my attention wandered to anything else, I would bring it back to the tile. And that year, anything else would have been my husband. In mid-October, he had told me that he wanted a divorce so that he could be free to find true love. After the initial shock of that, which sent me trembling uncontrollably into one of the chairs in our living room, I regrouped and followed through with my promise to drive Mother to Roswell for lunch with my sister. On the way, I felt Mother scrutinizing me. Advice was forthcoming, and it would have to do with my appearance.

“When we get to a certain age,” she said, “we need to make sure we check for hairs sticking out our nose.”  Eyes straight ahead – we were in the thick of traffic on 285—I said, “Thank you, Mother,” and drove on, making sure I was holding my shoulders in an erect posture, which is hard to do when you’re gripping the steering wheel. I think if she had reminded me about that then, I would have had to pull off the road (and check my nose).

In 2008, I celebrated New Year’s Eve with my wonderful neighbors, who continued drawing me into the couples’ supper group we had started several years before. Our hosts prepared an over-the-top roast beef dinner, and I brought a date – a smart, funny, kind man I had met in late summer.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, I arrived back in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve afternoon, after spending Christmas in Homer. I think a couple of those years, I dragged my jet-lagged self to the neighbors’ for a few minutes, then came back home to unpack and crawl into bed. Nothing for dinner those nights.

CupsCafe_Dec31_2012_AHII celebrated New Year’s Eve 2012—night before last—among Homer longtimers. Dinner was perfectly seared ahi tuna at Cups Café, followed by lively contra dancing in a boat barn on Kachemak Drive. Ladies outnumbered the gents, and every now and then, as the caller moved us up and down the lines, one of the gents swinging me around was an eight-year-old schoolmate of my grandson.

Contra dancing is a good model for living. Cooperation, patience, and a sense of humor are essential. You interact not just with a partner, but with everyone else. You help each other learn. On this New Year’s Eve, I felt in place, at home, and not a bit cheechako.

Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick