Sunday, December 31, 2006

2007 Here We Come Ready or Not

The best thing about the New Year is that favorite pastime of human beings: the chance to reinvent ourselves. Here is a whole year with no regrets, no mistakes, no missed opportunities laid out all shiny and clean in front of us. The flip side of that is the chance to pause in the act of moving along the slipstream of time to look back, to view our time just past from a broader perspective than today, this week, this month. I love both of those aspects of the holiday.

The part of the New Year celebration that has never quite worked out for me is New Year’s Eve. It is one of those occasions so freighted with societal expectations that for me the poor thing always withered on the vine with no chance to achieve the magic I was hoping for. Perhaps the worst was experiencing New Year’s Eve during my single years. It was a critical date night, but for some reason I never seemed to be in a relationship on New Year’s Eve. Writing that, it seems impossible that that was the case, but it is the way my memory records it.

Not having a date on New Year’s Eve meant that one was left open to the slings and arrows of their friends’ ideas of fun things to do on New Year’s Eve. Going along with that got me into some strange predicaments. Once in the 70s, a girl friend talked me into going to a New Year’s Eve party with her at one of her co-worker’s homes where I would know absolutely no one. Strike One. The house was beyond the suburbs out in the wilds where new developments were being completed, but no one lived there much yet. It was an enormous split-level monstrosity with three full floors of partying that became so packed with humanity that, had anyone checked, clearly would have violated local fire codes. Strike Two. The décor was ghastly. Now, mind you, this was the 70s when all décor was ghastly so this was pretty horrific. I remember it included a games room, complete with pool table, which had a safari theme—lots of faux (I think) animal skins on the walls, crossed spears, etc. Naturally, I lost contact with my friend in the crush. I felt totally isolated moving through this crowd thinking I must have been out of my mind to agree to come. Until midnight which brought us to Strike Three. That happy event apparently caused most of the males at the party to feel they had been granted an open license to grope, forcing me to evade several hands, tongues and, well, you get the idea.

By the mid-80s, I was married. Some of my favorite New Year’s Eve events took place at a friend’s cabin on an island north of the city. These were sort of adult pajama parties in that we all spent the night. Each couple or single brought some food contribution assigned by the hostess, kids were left with family members or babysitters and booze flowed freely. I look back fondly on that era when I had passed much of the angst-filled years, but was still young enough to party and recover. And, except for the occasional newly rotated-in girl or guy friend of someone, the core group were all very old friends, many of whom I had known since college. So, it was a comfortable group, where I felt free to be myself.

Even that tradition eventually gave way to mostly quiet New Year’s Eves at home, many of which we did not make it to midnight before going to bed! Now, life has moved on again. My recent New Year’s Eves have all been solo acts while my husband is working. I usually don’t go out, which would entail leaving the pooch alone to face the fireworks and other noise. In Florida, I spend a few minutes always hoping that no yahoos will be celebrating by firing guns into the air with the resultant stray bullets.

Now, 2007 has dawned all shiny and new. I can’t wait until I get up tomorrow and start mucking about in it. My wish for your New Year is the same as for my own: peace, plenty, and joy in the moments that make up our years and our lives. Happy New Year!

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