It’s quarter to six and I’m impatient. We decided last minute that a party was in order so we made a list and piled groceries on the table. My hands smell like garlic and paprika. I’ve got almonds ready for toasting and bruschetta almost finished in the fridge. In a minute, I’ll cut up a few baguettes and arrange olive and cheese on a tray. I’ve tied up spices for mulling wine and Lauren has a new punch bowl assigned to sangria. She’s rearranged furniture, pulled out special candles and lights. We have plans to slip into our favorite black dresses and turn the heat up so we can walk around barefoot. A few friends will trickle in around nine and at midnight, we’ll say goodbye to one of the hardest years yet. Not much has worked out as I hoped it would. But things worked out that I didn’t know I should have hoped for at all. I did not know I should hope for an opportunity to climb a mountain or swim backstroke in the ocean. I didn’t know to hope that I would be able to run distance again or that my holdover jobs would mean a chance to explore Brooklyn. I didn’t think to hope for warm summer nights I could dance carefree with my best friends on the Lower East Side. I did not think I would move cities or go underemployed for eight months. I did not know to hope for welcoming friends and quiet mornings of writing and contemplation. I did not know I would find courage despite scarcity and strength despite silence. I started the year like most of us do, hoping for all kinds of wins and triumphs. I did secure some successes, but perhaps more important than that, I’ve experienced the right kinds of losses, the ones that teach you what’s really important. I did not know to hope for that, for brokenness that makes healing possible, for resistance that forces an expansion of resilience and creativity. I did not know to hope for the disappointments that have come anyway, bringing with them guidance on how to plant my roots a little bit deeper, how to bloom a little bit braver.