In France, when they can't remember something, they blame it on "a hole in the memory." Out the hole in my memory have poured not only the names of people I met yesterday, the passwords to most of my computer accounts and the plot of the movie I saw last week, but also what the heck happened in my life for whole months of 2013.
Without checking my calendar, I can't remember a thing that occurred in March . . . or May. All I remember is that June's weather was a disappointment and October's a pleasant surprise. It's like reviewing the '80s, when whole years happened, hundreds of days filled with triumphs and struggles and worries and hugs, leaving not one memory I can summon up without help. If I don't record the changes wrought by the departing 2013, they'll wind up in the same place as my high school yearbook, safe in storage, but completely inaccessible.
What was new in my life this year? Well, for the first time I understood why Apple refers to the young people who work at its stores as "geniuses." For better or worse, these young people changed me from a lifelong technophobe into a person who experienced a panic attack after forgetting her cellphone at home, and misplacing her suddenly can't-live-without iPad at a friend's house, both on the same day.
What else was new this year? I can't even remember what stood there before, but suddenly there are two urgent care centers within three miles of my Searingtown home, and two self-serve frozen yogurt establishments. And two new banks. Hard to figure what that says about my neighborhood.
For the first time, thanks to the new overhead signs indicating how bad the traffic is, I know after just half a mile on the Long Island Expressway whether it will take me 54 minutes or 21 minutes to get to the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
Suddenly in 2013, public meetings about the need to close schools or integrate the new Common Core curriculum became as contentious as European soccer games. And all year long the tenacity and quiet courage of those recovering from Sandy inspired admiration throughout the country.
This year, when a lifelong, high-maintenance friend unjustly accused me of upsetting her, for the first time in 30 years I did not apologize, choosing instead to use the break in our relationship to evaluate what goes on between us. And, when faced with a situation where six months of work on a stressful writing project was judged a failure by an inexperienced (and obviously wrong!) critic, I walked away instead of defending myself, for the first time realizing that quitting can sometimes be more noble than continuing to fight a losing battle.
This year I also did a few things for the last time. I bought my last expensive skin-tightening baloney in a bottle, I stopped obsessing about the evils of red meat and sunshine, and I put a quotation -- "Worry is interest paid in advance for a debt that never comes due" -- on the bulletin board above my computer.
May your 2014 be full of successful, life-enhancing first times, and as many satisfying, soul-enriching last times. And may you remember them all at year's end!
Reader Marcia Byalick lives in Searingtown.