“Happy New Year!”
The cheer bellowed as our collective voices cheered on the beginning of the new year. Last year at this time I was in South Africa ringing in the beginning of a new year. Yet another in a long series of successful New Year’s Eve celebrations. Well not every new year is welcomed in the way this one was. Every new year is different even those spent in the same place. New Years Eve… How did I get here?
What is this crazy time of the year when one doesn’t even know what day of the week it is. I had to stick to just dates. It was safer. These cold winter days are made for sleep. We imbibe heavily starting in the early parts of December and carry through until the new year when in a state of epiphany we collectively say enough and make resolutions to be better. It is no wonder that at the end of a slovenly period of time we feel like we need to make changes. Eventually some of these positives stick and yet even if they don’t change still happens.
The slate at work on New Year’s Eve wasn’t too difficult. I was working with one of the new hires. He is an older bloke who has been working at a different hospital and decided that he would like to be closer to his home. It saves him time to make it over here instead of the other location. It’s weird training someone who is older than you and making small and seemingly anal adjustments. My analytical mind was going into overdrive and I had to stop and just be. But it’s easy to notice subtle things about how present someone is at their work. Adjusting to a new system is something that I’ve become accustomed to. I hope that this plasticity remains.
We all wanted to finish as efficiently as possible. The evening that lay ahead is momentous to everyone in various degrees. Some are fast asleep but most watch the clock ticking away on some surface in anticipation. It was interesting to see the news story out of Dubai and the hotel fire there. Isn’t it crazy that they still went ahead with the fireworks display. The smoldering fire bellowing smoke into the air as the fireworks blew ringing in the new year. One shouldn’t be surprised as the two events are unrelated yet combine into something meaningful. It was a big decision to go ahead and it says something about the movement of progress and the importance of grandiose displays.
It took a while to get ready after work. It’s easy to get distracted writing notes and seeing what is going on. Eventually though I made the breakthrough and left the flat to join my date for the night. We were going to a house party at a friend’s place. Since it took so long to get ready I decided to cab it there. I was glad that I made the run to the liquor store on my coffee break earlier. Now all that was left to buy was some mix for my rum’n’coke concoction that has become my staple over the past number of years. The cab ride was quiet the driver taking the long way to get there. It was filled with many lights and poor drivers in the way.
The local corner guy didn’t notice that I bought two different sizes of bottles and tried to charge me for the larger cost. I had to correct him on that and he apologized citing weariness because of the spacial day that it is. I asked him what was so spacial about today in my trademark deadpan delivery hoping to get a laugh out of him. It succeeded partially and I declined his offer of a bag.
Barbs was still getting ready as I entered her flat. We said hello and embraced like it would be the last time that this would happen this year. She said I give the best “hellos” and I guess she looks forward to seeing me again next year. This old and new year jokes are getting old but are still fun to roll out at this time of the year. Barbs said it was finally ready my present that she had been making for me. I had in my mind some lotion or potion that took a long time to make. But that’s not what it was it was a print out and binding of the story of my journey from the London back to Vancouver. She said that with the pictures full size it would have been seven hundred pages! But she managed to down size it to just over one hundred. It was a great present to get I was really blown away and still am to see the words and pictures in a physical thing. I thanked her and wondered about the thoughtfulness of the present and the work she put in to get it and make it and now to give it to me. It reminded me of some of the reasons I’m leaving and why it would also be nice to stay. If only…
Having a date for New Years is a great thing. There have been many years where this wasn’t a reality but this year it is. Hyper charged with hormones we left with our wares to add to the tons of food that was already there. The day that was has made me hungry and I obliged the hosts’ wishes in sampling all that was offered on the tables bit by bit. When we were searching for the house Barbs somehow copied and pasted the address to the wrong house. We looked for the number and we approached the door to a delapitated house beside the gentrified facade of a house next door. We tried to storm door and it was locked there was no doorbell and we didn’t know where to knock. Barbs made a call and found out it was really the house next door. The house that looked pretty with balloons that showed us the way to the party. We laughed at our foolishness and cursed the GPS that copied the location but gave us the wrong address and lead us to the wrong door. Maybe all this cursing has an effect on the way it responds. Maybe not…
There was a crowd already inside with some people dancing and others laughing as it should be on the last night of the year. Some were well dressed while others were not but no one wore ripped jeans and the basement flat had high ceilings with a modern finish to a high standard. The living room was big enough to accommodate the twenty or so people that wanted to ring in the new year together. I know the hosts from before but most of their friends are new to me. They kept asking me “do you ride?” To which I started to respond that “no but I walk.” Cheeky I know but it turns out that they go out and ride motorbikes together and through this they have become a group of friends that celebrate together. That common interest bound them together bringing the variety of them into a community.
After the initial hellos and unpacking I finally made myself a drink and started sampling the food. Action always happens around the food. It’s an easy way to make small talk as the various morsels are sampled and a consensus of opinion coalesces by the emptying of a dish. It is voting by disappearing that’s how a good dish is judged. I was taking a break and finishing a veggie roll when some of it went down the wrong pipe. I sipped on my drink to wash some of it away and all the while trying to continue the conversation I started with someone. My eyes started to water as I felt the difficulty in breathing and coughed to riposte the offending crud that slipped down my trachea. I asked the woman if she saw me struggling? To which she responded no. Then I told her what had happened and she proceeded to laugh. She said I handled that smoothly and I said I could have died. She was older and she was there with her husband. They were not liking the slow electronic music eminating from the stereo. It made me think of an article I read about the way modern people dance ‘at’ each other instead of ‘with’ each other as they used to back in the day. I was going to discuss this with them but it’s not the time or place besides we had just met.
And so it continued small talk that touched upon serious topics and some that were just silly. I must thank the couple of people who happened to be having a session while I made my drink at the table outside. It was much needed and their warm sausage rolls were just the thing as it was one of the few warm dishes served. I must thank the hosts for hosting us too as without them it would have been a different New Years. People came and went throughout the night. Some just stopped in to say hello on their way to some other shindig. It was just enough commotion that in time saw us all counting down the seconds remaining in the year. I read the observation made by someone that ‘one’ is the last word you say in the year and ‘happy’ is the first word you say in the new year. It just makes one feel warm and fuzzy all over thinking of that. Then comes the shower of kisses and tapping of glasses ‘cheers!’ to one and all.
This is when the games start the charades with a phone stuck to your head. The clues are abstract and the mind pins to make sense of them. A lot of fun and laughter is had by all. The dancing and celebrating start when there is an uproar by some in the crowd. They want to dance and not just move rhythmically to a rhythm. Barbs and I had a casual encounter that was turning hot. If we were on an anonymous dance floor it would have been a different sort of dance. We were behaving as best as we could and then all of a sudden we were the last couple there. The place had emptied as the guests felt they should go back to their abodes to sleep off the consumed beverages and bubbly that had made them feel merry as we felt the same. We left soon after and cought a cab to her flat it took too long for the bus and we didn’t want to wait in the cold night.
The next day was foggy and cold. The tree branches had ice layered on top. Barbs was cleaning up after we got up she was preparing for her new roommates arrival and I wanted to capture what was left of the fog that enveloped the city like a hangover. White darkness punctured by bright rays of sunshine melting the shapes of ice crystals that formed from the humid moisture that hangs in the air. I realized however that my present was left behind at her place so I doubled back and in doing so fixed an issue with her drawer that has been bugging her for a while. I finally made it back and after trying to stay up I crashed and slept. I woke up ever so briefly ate and went back at it again. That’s how I began my year in a new way with a new road ahead.