Wednesday, January 04, 2006

For Auld Lang Syne

Have you ever spent a New Year's Eve when everything went precisely as you had hoped? When something wonderfully, gloriously surprising happened that seemed a good omen of the year to come? When the man you loved finally realized he loved you, too, and ran across the city of New York, finding you on the dance floor moments before midnight to tell you he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you? (If you've experienced that last scenario, you really should watch When Harry Met Sally, because, hello! Story of your life!)

In years past, I've always wanted something Significant to happen as the countdown transpired. Most of the time I just threw back my Martinelli's and called it a night, mapping out half-(and sometimes whole-) hearted resolutions, and wondering where the next New Year's Eve would find me, but . . .

In high school, my friends and I planned a fabulous New Year's Eve bash. We ate Twizzlers and watched Wait Until Dark, sneaking behind the couch and grabbing our uninitiated friends at just the right terrifying moment. We unleashed huge bags of confetti at midnight, and wondered if the 2.5 seconds of fun had been worth it when we were still vacuuming at 4am. And when our hostess's mom found confetti in her couch in July.

I spent the final night of 1999 at a dinner party in Philadelphia, sitting at a beautifully decorated table with Martha Stewart-worthy party favors and fascinating company, none of whom I'd known for more than a few days. My fiancé and I were the recipients of numerous comments along the lines of: "How romantic to be celebrating the turn of the century together!" No one at that table knew that our relationship was falling apart, and that we were absolutely miserable. As the year 2000 arrived and my soon-to-be former fiancé gave me a quick peck on the lips, I felt weighed down by sorrow, and didn't want to think about what the new year would bring.

I rang in 2001 standing on a rooftop with a great view of the fireworks over Brooklyn Bridge. Our arms wrapped around one another for warmth as we shivered in the wind, my friends and I called out a "Happy New Year!" to the streets below. I felt peaceful and safe, and as I thought back on the events of the past year, I marveled at how much I'd been blessed, and how full of joy and promise my life had become.

Two years later, our far-too-ambitious plans having fallen through, my classmate and I wandered the streets of Dublin, wondering why a city so famous for drinking was so quiet at 10:30pm on New Year's Eve. We stopped several people on the street to ask if it really was December 31st, and eventually found ourselves in a crowded pub with ear-splitting karaoke. My friend sipped her Guinness, I sipped my ginger ale, and we both wished for the company of the young, handsome Irish men we'd felt certain we'd find instead of the strange, portly German man who kept telling us how much he liked American girls.

And so at last I found myself on the final eve of 2005, standing with Steve (he looks quite Irish) and watching fireworks over the ocean on the Isle of Kauai. Palm trees, crashing surf, and December 31st seem incongruous to me, but hey, you won't hear me complain. Neither am I complaining about even the most painful moments of years past. I have an amazing family, remarkable friends, and the knowledge that no matter what life throws at you, there is always, always joy to be found on this journey.



Kiki said...

Beautiful. Happy New Year!

~j. said...

What a sweet memory for you. Happy new year, new friend.

Azúcar said...

I've had a few New Years that met expectations, some that were marvelous, even more that were disappointing.

These days, I'm just happy to be around :)

Cheers and Happy New Year to a great couple (of whats?!)

L said...

Did he look anything like this?

Emmie said...

Carrie, Jenny, and Carina,
Thank you for your comments, you fabulous ladies! You are all such lovely gals (with lovely blogs).

Dear You,
How did you find a picture of the German guy??