Tuesday, January 5, 2010

State of Mind

I am a total sucker for New Year’s Eve. As a night person, it’s the one holiday where I am strongly encouraged to be myself and with the shopping over and done with, a belly still full of yummy holiday goodness and a focus on love and friendship, it really is a night that’s tough to beat. It is a firm belief of mine that the following year will be loosely shaped by what is going on at midnight.

As a young kid, grammar school age, my mom used to throw a pretty rockin New Year’s Eve party every year. Her friends and some family would come over and celebrate with food and champagne. There was always a slurry rendition of Auld Lang Sine as the clock ticked over, though no one really knew more than the first verse, and most years my sister and I were allowed to stay up to midnight if we made it that late. I recall one year that landed on a Saturday and SNL was on. This parody commercial came on where kids in snowman sweaters were calling home to tell their parents they loved them while sitting on grandpa’s lap beside the Christmas tree, when suddenly grandpa grabbed the phone and demanded a ransom and I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s pretty likely that is the year my warped sense of humor was shaped.

When I was a teenager I used to cry just about every year when the clock turned over. I guess I found it hard to say goodbye and my friends would laugh as it occurred every single year. One year a small group of us got all dressed up and went out for a nice Italian dinner in Lexington center. I was experiencing my typical melancholy and picked up the grated cheese to shake onto my ravioli. The entire top came with it onto my plate, sauce splashed all over my white sweater and the four of us didn’t stop laughing all night. I figure that’s the year I learned that I would never be one of those women who can wear a white outfit and not spill something on it.

As I grew and my mom stopped having her party I began venturing out to spend the night with friends in the city. Quite a few years were spent downtown watching drunken vagrants wander the icy cold streets as we made our way to the edge of the Harbor to check out midnight fireworks. That was a lot more fun the year S brought a couple of her cutest college boys back home and we all drank champagne in the middle of the street to keep warm. I had no idea one of them had brought a bottle in his backpack but as the fireworks began he popped the cork and if I do recall we swilled right out of the bottle. That was the year I stopped crying at midnight.

A whole bunch of years later, after a particularly life altering break up, I decided to spend the holiday in a completely different state with a friend that I rarely saw on that night. I headed off for North Carolina just after the Christmas holiday and planned to spend close to fourteen days there before a new job began in January. It was the famed Y2K and none of us could have cared less if the power went out at midnight. We spent the early part of the night drinking at what I affectionately called the senior center watching all the 55+ peeps dance with each other as my friend’s aunt sang. Collectively we decided to watch the ball drop so we raced back to a friend’s apartment, sparked a bowl, held our breath for one second at midnight and laughed off the silly tech fear as nothing happened. Regardless of the mind altering drugs, that was the year I gained a whole bunch of life perspective.

Almost every year since, with the exception of one year we were at my sister’s through the holidays, we have spent with S&B. Most years we head out for dinner, have a great meal, a couple drinks and laughs big enough to fill an entire room. Then we end up back at one or the other of our places, pop champagne, watch the ball drop, hug and kiss our respective other half, knock back the glass full of bubbly and end up asleep well before 12:30. When Matt and I were living in New York we still made our way back to the Boston area to see them on New Year’s because to us it was really important to spend the holiday with people we care about, and to follow with tradition as well. Those were the years I learned what real, true friendship is and how it can grow stronger over time into a bond more like family.

For many reasons, those friendships included, I have remained in the northeast my entire life, but anyone who knows me understands that my heart belongs in southern California. My soul too, so I left both of them behind in order to collect them when I end up there for good. Soon. This was an entirely new experience for me as we spent the holidays in the Palm Springs area with Matt’s dad and step mom, who we rarely see as it is, and as long as I have been around, never on Christmas or New Year’s. S-MIL was pushing hardcore for us to move out there, we even toured a couple model homes and explored neighborhoods we might consider living in. There are past mistakes, messiness and issues that need to be addressed and fixed before we could go, not to mention a couple building blocks that need to be securely mortared in for us to build a life on out there, but we are both ready to make the change.

This was the year I learned how excited I am to watch our lives become everything we want them to be and more.


pastrywitch said...

"It is a firm belief of mine that the following year will be loosely shaped by what is going on at midnight." This could explain what went wrong with my life; I'm usually asleep at midnight on New Years's Eve. May you get to SoCal soon. I'll even get on a plane (HATE airports and airplanes) to come see you there.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Are you thinking of living in Palm Springs? Hope you've been there in the dead of summer, some like it that hot, but we have a friend that bought out there in the winter and has a hard time dealing with the heat from June to October. I love La Quinta, I could live there! If I had a pool.

I have a soft spot for New Years Eve too, I find it exciting each and every year.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Well Kate I'd have to say instead maybe that's why you're a more relaxed spirit, because you get plenty of rest...??? Silver lining :-) I would LOVE for you to come & visit! Do so in the winter so you can bring a little warmth back with you!

Yeah Elizabeth we're thinking Indio for a year to rent but when we buy we're heading to Temecula. Yes, a pool is a definite requirement. I am a lover of heat, I would live inside my oven if I could, but I'm afraid Matt might melt without the liquid refreshment. Guess that's why margaritas are so popular haha. LaQ is right where we were!

Karen said...

Really nice post, Jenn. It's nice to have traditions and good memories. I hope things work out for you and Matt and you land in SoCal very soon!

Rosebud Collection said...

I was never a big person for New Years Eve. My mom/dad always had the neighbors over New Year's eve..
So you like CA..did you live there?
Sound wonderful. Never been to CA, only when we boarded to go to Hawaii..so I don't know much about it.
I enjoy change, but can't seem to get out of Maine..ha, ha..
Have a good day..xooxCarolyn/Rosebud

Joan said...

Lots of sun for me too. I feel better, physically and emotionally, when I have the sun and heat. Exciting for you!