THE TURNING OF THE YEAR
I don’t know about you but I can be pedantic. Overly concerned with minute details. One of the things that drives me nuts is when people misuse the word anniversary. For example: if someone says, this is Helen’s and my ten year anniversary. No. One ought to say, this is Helen’s and my tenth anniversary.
Anniversary contains the word year within it—annus meaning year. To say one year anniversary is redundant. Now, if you’re going to use anniversary in the less literal sense and as a marker of a different kind of time—this is my six month anniversary of quitting smoking—that’s a different issue.
I really have worked hard over the years to not be a corrector, one of those people who always points out when someone is doing something wrong. You know what nobody wants? Unsolicited advice.
Thankfully and miraculously, three years ago today I married someone who is not a corrector. I believe it’s one of the keys to our so far happy marriage.
Notice how I felt the need to qualify that?
In addition to being pedantic I’m also a skeptic. All of my attempts at focusing on what is working and what is good and how to stay engaged are because there’s a healthy—or maybe not so healthy—part of me that doesn’t believe that things will work out.
It will all work out. It’s a phrase that grew out of our monthly services. I had written it in the text after I introduced the mingle, early in each service everyone is asked to say hi to someone sitting next to them and to seek out someone they haven’t met before. Partly it’s to acknowledge who is in the room before the ritual of the service can really begin and to say, we are here together in this room at the same time sharing this event.
Years ago when my friend Lauren lived with her sister, I was invited to participate in several Wiccan circles—before the ritual can begin, the circle is drawn, it’s for protection. This practice is ancient and comes from the pagans. When I visited the radical faeries I noticed that they, too, drew the circle close before beginning a ritual. It protects those who are present but also protects whatever is about to occur.
Ritual. Our days are marked by all types of ritual—an honoring of time, a marking of something you’ve done before many times, over and over again.
An anniversary is a ritual. A marking of time. I love how Jews mark the anniversary of someone’s death—yahrzeit. Which means anniversary time in Yiddish. It’s most commonly practiced around the death of one’s parents.
Are some cultures better at marking time than others? Seems like it. The United Statesvies with Switzerland and Japan for being the fastest moving country—all three nations have what social anthropologists call a deficit of time. For the other two countries it is due to the precision of their time keeping. For the US it has more to do with our penchant for always looking to the future.
There are still some cultures that don’t really have a functioning concept of time. A tribe in the amazon that has no past or future tense in its language. Certain Hopi indian tribes have a similar relationship to time.
Our relationship to time and how we mark it is relatively recent. The clock is not a terribly old invention. And it is due to the invention of trains that we started to keep time together—in order for trains to run on time and for people to know when their train was coming or when a delivery would arrive time had to be systematized.
One of the most marked aspects of this shutdown, of living through this powerfully strange extended chapter of life—is how our relationship to time has changed. Something that took place a couple of days ago can seem like it was months in the past. People have lost track of the days of the week. It’s as if our collective clock has come undone.
I wonder if there will be markers for this time? In the future, will there be an anniversary of the pandemic? Probably not officially because that would involve a public acknowledgment of the virus and we know this has not happened.
I never imagined I would ever get married. Up until just a few years ago, I couldn’t have, not legally anyway. Growing up in the 70s, there wasn’t a hint of marriage equality talk. So look, we can change, we can progress, we can continue to increase civil liberties for all people. Of course a huge number of folks in our country think the opposite, that things like gay marriage aren’t advances but regressions. But we who are active participants in building the new society—and I count all of us here among those people—we know better.
Happy anniversary, Bobby Lucy. Thanks for loving me so generously for not pointing out my faults even if they’re glaring. And thanks for coming to find me so we could begin to build The Secret City.
Look at how beautiful it is.