What If New Years Is Not A New Start And That’s OK?

Two New Years ago I swore I wouldn’t go out. No way in hell was I standing out in the cold with the drunk spoiled children of America, getting a sloppy kiss from some doofus Emory student that I’d waited on a hundred times and never tipped me. No way was I spending what little money I had on sweet diluted cocktails that only served to make the people I worked for richer, and me, chubbier.

Plus, I was totally getting broken up with on New Years.

jen2016

Photo Credit: Melanie Goldey

Growing up in the south, you know exactly what being stuck in a trap feels like because you’re born into one. It’s why our food tastes so good and our songs are so tragic. We understand that time is cyclical like a greasy doughnut. It’s a shiny engagement ring from death. It’s nonsense we made up to explain the slow decay of our bodies…

especially when you’re getting broken up with on New Years.

My roommate’s boyfriend at the time owned a very successful and very popular bar. We were promised lavish VIP treatment for showing up. I had sworn up and down I wasn’t going out for any reason, under any circumstances, under any sun. So when my roommate propositioned me it made total sense that I caved instantly and was whisked away to the last place on Earth I wanted to be- in public.

People are spilling out into the streets. People are yelling in each other’s faces. Everyone’s eyes are rolling back into their heads. Everyone’s wearing shitty Express clothing. It’s one of my many nightmares.

I was doing pretty OK until just before midnight when my roommate dashes out to find her boyfriend to give him the fabled New Year’s kiss leaving me stranded at a table big enough to host jesus’s last supper on. I look to my left and I’m surrounded by younger, more beautiful girls whose hope is dripping from their eyes. I look to my right and there are even younger, even prettier girls who believe in newness and do overs, whose smile takes up their whole face, who trust with their whole heart, who are still just a series of actions with no consequences.

I had promised myself this New Years that I wouldn’t end up in the corner of a dark bar pretending that time was a means to an end. The fact that I was was proof that time didn’t exist, that nothing ever changes, that new years means nothing. That life is not a story with a beginning and an end; it’s just a dizzying ouroboros, a cyclical prison, the politest momento mori where sometimes the scenery changes.

I look up and people are already mouthing the countdown but I’m so far up my own ass I can’t hear anything. 10, 9, He’s not going to call me.  8, 7 What am I doing here. 5, 4, Maybe if I just close my eyes. 3, 2, Maybe I can freeze time and stop…

1!

I open my eyes and watch my wish float away refusing to materialize. I’m sitting amidst screaming, jumping, kissing, hugging, pushing. There’s champagne spewing into the air like fireworks. I’m pretty sure I see Seth Green. Holding my head in my hands I try to blow into a noise maker but it’s silent.

A young man crouched down on the ground catches my attention. He’s attractive and looking straight at me. I smile. Maybe he’ll come over and turn this whole year around, I think to myself. No, he starts crying. Another guy approaches him to give him a hug. The crying boy violently pushes him against a wall, punching him in the chest. I blow on the noise maker again and the crepe paper just unfolds without a sound. I take a sip of my drink but there’s tons of confetti swimming in it. I spit it back out of my mouth.

A bartender walks by and points to the mounds of confetti on the ground.

“Guess who gets to clean all this shit up,” she says to me. I laugh. I pantomime snorting confetti off the table. She laughs. Happy New Year.

Fast forward to present day. End of 2016. My mom’s been in the hospital since my 30th birthday. I woke up two days ago to find my pet parakeet dead in the bottom of his cage. I’ve gained weight. I’m getting sued. I could really cling to a fresh start like some crotchety old bag knocking on religion’s door so she doesn’t have to spend another year alone. Ah, well. What’s one more year of making the exact same mistakes. 

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