This has been quite a year for Mrs. T and me, in some ways difficult, in others gratifying. We’ve seen a hundred shows, moved to a new neighborhood in Manhattan, taken a full-fledged vacation, driven up Highway 1 from San Diego to San Francisco, spent two wonderful months in residence at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and generally kept moving–far too much for our mutual good, I fear, but we did what we had to do and it didn’t kill us, so that’s that.
I doubt that the year to come will be much less busy, but I hope and expect that it will be even more satisfyingly eventful. Next week we start making our circuitous way to Winter Park for a second residency, in the course of which, among other exciting things, I’ll be directing excerpts from my first play, a one-man show about Louis Armstrong called Satchmo at the Waldorf, about which much more in due course. I’ll also be buckling down to write a sizable chunk of my next book, Black Beauty: A Life of Duke Ellington, and zooming all around the country in search of memorable theater. Sooner or later we’ll unpack the rest of the boxes in our new apartment and start rehanging the Teachout Museum in earnest.
What Mrs. T and I won’t do is take our good fortune for granted, starting with the astonishing fact of our being together. It is, I suspect, exceedingly rare for two people in the middle of life to make a marriage as close as this one has become. When you marry late, every day is a surprise and a blessing. I nearly died five years ago this month, at exactly the same moment that I met and fell in love with Hilary, which makes what has happened to us (and what didn’t happen to me) all the more poignant.
I take a dark view of many, perhaps most things, but I try very hard to live life with a smile. Somewhere or other Joseph Epstein wrote that H.L. Mencken’s lifelong pessimism never stopped him from getting a good dinner, which seems to me exactly the right attitude toward the world and its myriad woes. I know that they exist, but I also know that I am a lucky man, and so long as my luck holds, I hope never to do it the injustice of ingratitude.
On that note, I wish for all of you the happiest and most hopeful of new years. May you laugh often, cry only when you want to, and never be bored!