Usually, I get very stressed out about traveling to and from Wanakena, my friend K-Ross's house in the mountains, and then I enjoy my time in the snowy wilderness immensely. This year I felt nowhere near so apprehensive in advance; but, while I enjoyed myself, I also didn't have the kind of heart-filling experience I have had in the past. Whether these things are related, I can't tell.
What is probably related is that about half of those who went this year were newfolks, a self-contained group of non-Swatties, and though they were perfectly nice, I felt a bit on the outskirts the whole time. Mostly I hung out with my small, great nucleus of friends, an experience that was cozy and lovely but not transcendent. Plus, once two of those friends ramped up the flirting and eying of each other, the prevailing narrative of the day became their courtship and then its culmination. (Of which I only watched the first part.)
Mr. Ben put in a superhuman effort to get us there, driving almost the entire way through a devouring snowstorm, after having slept only two hours of the last thirty. Listening to the last Harry Potter book on CD helped, but the unfortunate side effect was that he was more or less in a fugue state for much of the next day. Still, I think he had a good time. And it's lucky we didn't crash. Apparently we tempted fate by forgetting to "sit" before we left -- it's a very simple Russian tradition that consists, simply and entirely, of sitting quietly before getting up and moving into the car. We forgot, and, in consequence, LEFT OUR DOOR UNLOCKED. Nothing was stolen, thank God, but I don't think we'll neglect to "sit" again.
Once in Wanakena, we hung out in the sweat lodge, danced, ate, and tromped through the deep powdery snow. We also played a lot of games, especially once the strangers and half of my nucleus took off, leaving only K. Ross, Mr. Ben, the Rebbe and me alone with the leftovers. My favorite part of the experience was the outfit I wore New Year's Eve, which came courtesy of the Rebbe with an assist from one of the strangers. I felt like a 20's vixen. (Pictures TK!)
And now it's 2008. I can't believe this year is here already -- it's the one I thought would never come around. We had to offer blessings to each other over dinner, a process which freaked me out in the moment since I hate being put on the spot AND forced to be sincere at the same time, but the ones I offered the stranger next to me stand for pretty much everyone I know, certainly all of you: (1) good haircuts; (2) a Democratic government; and (3) the encountering of many new and surprising selves within the larger You. Happy new year!