It's that time of year when relatives and friends mail out those neat year-end summaries.
Lists of top grades obtained by children in school and colleges, degrees achieved, jobs got, promotions obtained, marriages, houses bought.
Often accompanied by fresh-faced family portraits of grinning gleaming people basking in the year's afterglow.
Kings and Queens
Family royalty. At their best.
The simmering divorces, depressions, affairs, alcoholism, jobs lost and classes dropped rarely make these cheerful missives.
Yet we all know they are there. Scrub way the inkjet glee and a much more complex picture will emerge.
One day, perhaps, a brutal assessment of the year's ups and downs might flutter through my mail slot or slide into my electronic folder.
I won't hold my breath.
Maybe that's why I refuse to partake of this particular fashion myself. If anyone wants to know what's been going on, and is really curious, well, ask me.
Virtually Part 1
So why do I have such a hard time embracing the trappings of middle-class success?
(For middle-class I remain).
It's how I was raised. It's the world that surrounded me then. It's the world that surrounds me now.
Virtually Part 2
Those ingredients, the ones so carefully checked off in those annual what's-done lists, exist for me too.
I could compose a perfectly acceptable and respectable rejoinder if I so wished.
But I won't.
Virtually Part 3
Even though I wouldn't really have to fake anything.
Or filter the truth that much.
Yet it would be an empty exercise.
Virtually Part 4
One that would leave feeling slightly sick inside as soon as the email was sent or the letter posted.
I would sooner remain mysterious.
I would sooner feel freer with my flaws
Enjoy, as I did today, a conversation over the breakroom table about the cluelessness of those who have never experienced depression.
Or any other acknowledged mental trial.
With someone who knows.
On the other hand, I could compose one and mail it out.
I could do it here.
With white characters on a white background.
As cheery as could possibly be.