It's not entirely impossible to summarize the year with a brief slate of high and low points, but the year was thick with significance, change and excitement so let's just roam around a bit. In no particular order, here are the significant slices of my 2006 calendar:
Beirut in the Spring
My brief excursion to Beirut at the end of March was too short, by far. In addition to a slew of posts chronicling my March 30 through April 4 trip to visit a friend before he shipped off to his next assignment, I also captured my trip in film. I was amazed by the explosive growth taking place in the Mediterranean city emerging from a decades-long civil war; two months after I left, the construction ceased and the city found itself paralyzed by strife and warfare again. The one hint I had that Lebanon remained a hub of political tension (outside of the countless reminders of the 2005 political assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri) was my discovery that Hamas and Hizbollah were holding a conference in my hotel while I was there.
After a some tough experiences late in 2005, Nikole and I were both excited in late May when we learned that we were very likely going to be ringing in 2007 with a new baby in our lives. Not three weeks later, our hearts simply broke when there was, suddenly, nothing. I wrote some about the silence that suddenly enveloped our lives, and about my own challenges found in mourning. Finally, three poems I've written about miscarriages.
A weeklong seminar in Cape Cod came at the perfect time for both of us -- several weeks after Nikole's miscarriage. It was important for us to be in a space together without much in the way of demands; and since my mornings were consumed with the machinations of genius facilitators Edie and Charlie Seashore, Nikole also had some equally important space to herself. We got on the road on July 1 -- headed for Avalon, New Jersey, to see our friends Judy Anderson and Tom Poe who were on the Jersey shore with their family for the opening of Judy's art show -- and returned to Richmond a week later. We spent some wonderful, quiet time together; ate some great food; explored some curious places; and I learned tons from the Seashores. A slew of photos that capture the week have been pulled together, as well.
Greater Richmond Challenge
Why go month-by-month. Between Beirut and Cape Cod, I took a two-day vacation in my own city. The Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce's Richmond Challenge was a great way for me -- and a hundred other people -- to explore the Metro Richmond area, to learn more about some serious issues facing the region, to meet some amazing people committed to making a difference, and to learn how we could make an impact. My team focused on affordable housing, and a handful of us have continued to be engaged around the topic -- meeting with affordable housing advocates, speaking at a Times-Dispatch public forum on the topic, and kicking off the Chamber's November forum. My involvement in the Challenge also introduced me to a small handful of Richmonders who I might never have met, and who have grown to be good friends and great catalysts in my life.
Dinner with the Stanley's
I didn't write much about it on my site, but one of the more significant events of the year was a simple dinner. We joined a small group of loosely connected friends and the parents of our mutual friend, India Mara Stanley, for dinner at Edo's Squid. India died at the end of October, 2004; she was 34 years old. India's mother recently sent me a small photo album filled with wonderful photos of my old friend; we're hoping to visit the Stanley's in New York this spring.
Coffee with Richmond's Journalatees
This was the year when I found myself having coffee, typing out email exchanges and participating in panel discussions with an odd assortment of Richmond publishers, editors, reporters and webloggers. There is a small element of ego at play here, but more than anything I simply enjoyed getting to know some media professionals (and quasi-professionals) whose work I've followed, cursed, admired and appreciated over the years. I've also broadened my own understanding of some of the decisions various publications have made recently that left me scratching my head. Apparently, my passion for journalism and news have not vanished after all these years out of the business.
Would it be a year at our house if I didn't note the power of the garden in our lives. We didn't do anything dramatic in the yard this year -- outside of watching a dozen new shrubs wither and die in the summer heat -- but the rabbits, the vegetables and the flowers filled our days with small moments of purpose and delight. And then the rabbits ate all of the vegetables and filled me with angst. And then we planted a rabbit-proof fall garden (which was crushed by an early freeze).
The sudden and unexpected death of Nikole's stepbrother is still fresh. Garrett Price was only 24 when he died on December 10. It's been very difficult watching her family deal with the grief, knowing that there is very little I am able to do but support her, and them.
My unexpected participation in the Starr Foster Dance Company's production of "Alice" was a real delight. Throwing myself, as best I could, into the world of dance was just plain exciting -- and periodically nerve-wracking. But I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything, and have begun to cajole Starr to find a space for me in an upcoming production.