Last night, for the first time in years, we went out for New Years Eve. Dressed up and everything…to the extent that Oregonians dress up for anything. I looked decent, in a drapey, bohemian Stevie Nicks sort of way…showing the slow graceful glow of age…

The name of the band—”Acoustic Minds”—attracted me. It sounded intimate. Thoughtful. Tuneful. A band, perhaps, that could be appreciated without sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears.

They were young. They were good. We sat through all three sets, strapped on our shiny befeathered party hats and tooted our cardboard horns at midnight. It was a pleasant evening. Significantly different than the last several new years, which we have rung in surrounded by family…that family around whom I always feel I need to be bobbing and weaving.

Will this deviation from our traditional keeping of the holiday portend a similar departure from the routine in the coming year? One can only hope. This morning I realized that as of December 26, 2005, I had stiffened my spine and determined to march off in exactly the same direction as I had 365 days prior. Up to my eyeballs in family estrangements, I had resolved to turn around, dust off my hands, and go off in search of a life to replace the one I wanted but couldn’t have. The one where I have been beating upon a door seven years closed.

In 2006, I want…more. More of something. Anything. I want to load up my life with so many things that, by the time the holiday season rolls around in 2006, I may or may not have room to squeeze in those people who have let me know plainly that I have not the importance in their lives that they have in mine. It only makes sense… You can only knock on a locked door for so long before you realize it’s never going to open.

At the dawn of each of the last six new years, I’ve made the same sad decision to walk away from that door. But the world has turned, changed, gone forward without me. I’m out of phase. I’m a twentieth-century seeker in a twenty-first century reality. My skills are rusty; my contacts outdated. Still, each year, I get a little further down the road before the brick wall of pure aloneness rises in front of me. Blocks the road and sends me creeping back to that same old familiar doorstep.

May this be the year that I finally break through that wall. Reach through the hole and grasp a new reality. One with warm bodies to welcome and enfold me. Or at least restrain me from turning back toward that old, locked door.