It has been one of the worst years of my life and yet one of the least lonely.
Last New Year’s Eve, I was at a very good friend’s apartment in Noe Valley, San Francisco. I had been casually dating a young techbro — there’s no other way to put it — in New York for some months, and he met me there, his family being from the Bay Area. Another friend I met through the internet the year before due to our shared Lyme disease diagnosis came over; she was in a slinky silver dress and egged me on to put on my own slinky silver dress. Another friend from grad school, who’d recently moved up to the Bay Area, joined us, and we all had what you might call a small New Year’s party. We laughed at the idea — none of us are party people anymore — and we sat with our plastic cups with mostly untouched cheap champagne around a TV, watching Mariah Carey mess up every part of her live Times Square New Year’s Rockin’ Eve performance. No one was saying “2017” yet, of course, but soon they would be, and we’d be thinking back to the Mariah performance with a weary “How 2017.”
We were all friends in different ways, but now also one way: We shared a language. In January, everything was resistance, just two months after the election. It was still a few months before it became impeachment. And now I don’t know what it is. Both those words feel as vital as they feel impotent, especially since now, in the final weeks of 2017, we go day after day stuffed with the apologies of famous men, one after another, who have sexually assaulted, layered upon women who are coming out and speaking their painful truths. And all the rest of us are somehow living through their traumas as they collide in our psyches with our own. Meanwhile, our president is the one who has not apologized, who has not reckoned with his harassments and assaults, and all the many women who have accused him have become faded figures, like inefficient ghosts — never quite absent but ultimately lacking in their haunting ability. 2017.
We now know the most intimate parts of so many people. I see the hashtags #RoseArmy and #IStandWithAsia and so many more, the most private businesses of these once-undisclosed pasts. Suddenly all sorts of celebrities seem like they know us — and in a way, they do: liking our posts, retweeting us, sometimes even messaging as two well-known actresses have taken to doing with me of late.