As a hopeful romantic, I have had very high expectations about New Year's Eve ever since I was a hopelessly romantic teenager. And by and large, I have had very disappointing New Year's Eves. Certainly, I've had my share of fun, but I have always believed there is something magical about the clock striking midnight, ushering in a brand new year; as if all the bad ideas and choices and bad things that happened in the prior year evaporate into oblivion with the falling, crystal Times Square ball.
Really, the unrealistic expectations began when I was a collge freshman. That NYE, 1994, might have been my most disappointing still. I remember braiding my hair and crying while sitting in my dad's reclining chair watching movies with my mom in the living room. My boyfriend, who was still a senior in high school, ditched me to go to a party with his friends. My daydream about a romantic kiss at midnight was shattered when he told me only a day before that he planned to spend the night with his wrestling buddies and that if I was there, he wouldn't have fun because he would be worried about me the whole night. I was devastated because I made no alternative plans. My college friends had invited me to their parties, but it was too late to make new plans and my mom didn't want me to drive to Essex County.
So I was stuck in my dad's recliner. Even my younger sister had a party to go to. (And just for the record, this was a wonderful boyfriend. He was just trying to break up with me but couldn't figure out the best way to do it so he went from amazing to douche-nozzle over my winter break. I was just too stupid to see what was happening. Needless to say, I went back to Rutgers with a broken heart and a very bad hair cut. (The leading cause of all bad hair decisions is love, after all.)
In any case, that might have been the worst NYE. Second worst was when my college/post-college boyfriend had broken up with me so I went to a party with my housemates to "let loose," meet someone new and get my romantic midnight kiss. That someone new put a roofy in my cocktail and after a few sips, I threw up, passed out and then stumbled my way back to my ex-boyfriend's fraternity house and passed out again. All before 9 pm. Never let a good looking stranger make you a drink out of your site line, was the lesson learned there.
Again, high expectations. Low bar.
My Yoda asked me what sort of ritual do I think I should perform to sort of symbolically move into 2017 (or something like that. Truth is, I was only half listening because my left knee started to throb. I nailed it into the corner of my couch yesterday. It really hurts, is totally swollen and bruised. In any case, this is the gist of the conversation.) I wasn't quite sure how to answer the question (partly because I never thought about that before and partly because of the whole not really listening thing.). Certainly, my ideal NYE involves being with someone I love and promising more love in the future and to do amazing, fun, healthy, loving things in the next year together...sappy, sap, sap, sap...And kissing. Really good kissing. But I wasn't going to tell Yoda that! Gross.
So after some pretending to think, some actual thinking, and some rubbing my knee, I came up with my 2016-2017 ritual: The Purge. Ok, it's not original, but it's what came to me. I only have 50 minutes and I had to reserve at least some time to bitch about my family.
In the next few days, I will be purging. Not food, weirdos, (and gross, by the way) but stuff. The ultimate question is what is holding me back from becoming who and what I want to be in 2017? The answer is: the things that do not lift my spirits. That includes people.
I'm cleaning out my closet, first of all. So anyone interested in hand me downs, let me know (mostly XS and size 0 stuff - sorry, I'm a Hobbit). I have too much stuff. No one needs this much stuff. Purses, accessories and jewelry will be next. Then it's on to social media. I know, how can an oversharer like myself purge social media from her life? Well, I can't entirely. Welcome to the 21st Century. But I can avoid getting so caught up and distracted in the virtual reality for a while. It dawned on me that I have begun to care far too much about what my Facebook world looks like to everyone else when my real world isn't quite so rosy. Time to play in the real world a while. So I'm checking out for a while. I know, I know you're all going to go through #annabanana withdrawal. You'll be all right.
Then, there is the tough decision of the people purge. Not literally, relax. I recognize that there are people in my life who most certainly do not lift my spirits. So it is time for a bit of distance from those folks. Perhaps at some point in the future, they will redeem themselves in my eyes, but for now, I think it's best that I bid them adieu (not really, because then they'd really know how I feel and that would be so awkward) and focus myself and precious time on the people in my life who believe in me, support me, accept me and love me. It's a small group, which is a good thing because I am also looking for more time to binge watch Westworld, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Maybe Sons of Anarchy if there's time...
My Yoda always reminds me of a line from the movie "City Slickers" where Curly, the old cowboy shares the secret of life with the guys. He tells them it's "one." Pick one thing and do that. If you remember the movie the guys are out there trying to find meaning and purpose in their middle-aged lives. One of them is an architect and he wants to be a writer and this one wants to do that. Curly's point is that he's a cowboy. He's good at it and he has put his whole self into doing that which he loves. Find that thing and do that one thing.
I find myself coming up with ridiculously good ideas - businesses and new careers - but the point is, if I focus on one of these things instead of killing myself trying to do everything, then perhaps life will simplify and I'll be able to slow down. I'm going to try it. My one thing is broad and allows for a few branches - writing, blogging, speaking engagements - stuff I enjoy. As new opportunities present themselves to me, it will be imperative to keep this "one" thing in mind and also have the willpower to say "no" to those things presented that will not lift my spirit.
I read and shared an article the other day that basically told us that if your life sucks, it's your own damned fault. Truer words are rarely spoken. Of course, we are in charge of our path and decisions. The article remided us that the world owes us nothing. If we want something - happiness, love, a fulfilling career - then the onnus is on us to go get it. Work. This wasn't an overly insightful article, but it said all the words many of us need to hear. Stop whining, start working toward finding and developing the life we want. Message received.
And while I am still hoping for that romantic kiss and promise at midnight, I am ready to greet the new year with a simpler to do list, simpler desires, and simpler everything. In case you were wondering, I'm looking to simplify life because at the end of the day, the most important things to me are my loved ones and just finding peace. Frankly, I find it everytime I pull into Benjamin's driveway, but let's not tell him that. We don't want to make him cocky.
Still, there is something very comfortable and peaceful about breathing in the fresh air and seeing the stars at night at his house. That's the simple joy I am seeking this year. The basics.
So from the girl who makes a wish every time the digital clock says 11:11 - my personal 2017 wish is for peace of mind. Once I have that, the rest will most certainly come naturally. It must.
I wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year.
As many of you know, I have a strange interest in the British monarchy and British royal history. Mostly, I enjoy the political intrigue that went along with the ebb and flow of the royal rule throughout history. And of course, built in to any lengthy history are the epic romances.
Most famous perhaps is Henry VIII and the Lady Anne Boleyn, a romance that helped usher the Protestant Reformation into England. Henry's love and perhaps obsession with the Lady Anne altered the course of English politics, society and religion, much to the chagrin of Rome. There are many biographical versions of the tumultuous but passionate relationship between Henry and Anne, but the most logical and compelling was that Henry was madly in love. He was no longer in love with his wife, Queen Katherine - he resented her for what he perceived to be an inability to produce a male heir - and worked to find a way out of his marriage to be with Anne, who he saw as the solution to everything from birthing an heir to maintaining his youth, which he longed for. Some might say that Harry had a bit of a mid-life crisis.
But Anne and Henry's desire for one another was the catalyst for tremendous social and political change in Britain. This love affair did not end well for Anne, of course. The same forces that helped her rise, turned against her and her family, initiated her downfall, and replaced her with the demure and Catholic Jane Seymour. As with Anne, this was all family ambition and politics at play. Anne's family offered her more or less as a mistress to the King, like her sister before her, but Anne played her own game.
Many if not most versions of this story portray Anne as someone who manipulated her way into the arms of the most powerful man in the world. But closer examination of the political climate and Henry's personality tell a slightly different story. Likely, they were passionately in love but the allure of the forbidden fruit wore off once Henry divorced Katherine and married Anne. His whole purpose for papal reform was now irrelevant since he received what he wanted and so the political forces and noble families who desired a return to the church helped push that along by convincing Henry (who was still without a male heir) that the Boleyns needed to go.
He couldn't divorce Anne; he had no grounds. So those around the King miraculously found him some grounds (adultry and incest - neither of which were true, but it was easy to bully courtiers into providing circumstantial evidence) and Anne stood trial, was found guilty and executed for treason against her love, the King of England. Thomas Boleyn, whose ambition led Anne to the chopping block, sacrificed his own daughter (and son) for power and property. In the end, Anne sacrificed her life for the love of a King. Henry went on to four more wives.
Then there is the story of Edward VIII and Mrs. Wallis Simpson. 400 hundred years after Anne's head was lopped off into a basket, David Windsor, King Edward VIII abdicated his throne when it was clear that neither his family nor Parliament nor the Cabinet would allow his marriage to the "woman he loved." It was rumored that Mrs. Simpson began her relationship with David, who after abdicating became known as the Duke of Windsor, while still married to her second husband. After David Windsor succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father, and took the name King Edward, Wallis was divorced from her husband. It was clear the new King intended to marry Wallis. But a union with a twice married and twice divorced Amercian socialite from Pennsylvania nearly caused a British Constitutional crisis.
While not the ultimate sacrifice, King Edward VIII sacrificed the crown, his birthright and much of his livelihood (relatively speaking, of course - he lived in a palace for goodness sake) to marry the "woman he loved" in 1936. (Or as his mother Queen Mary referred to Wallis Simpson, "that woman.")
His brother, Albert, who became King George VI then succeeded to the throne followed by HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Although formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis was not titled Her Royal Highness, but rather "Her Grace," a term reserved for non royal dukes and duchesses. The royal family was sure to keep "that woman" in her place and they did for many years as the couple traveled between homes in the US and Europe.
While the story of Anne and Henry has always been compelling to me, now that I am binge watching The Crown on Netflix, the story of King Edward in particular, strikes a chord. I hear refrains of "What I Did for Love" playing in my head from the Broadway musical, A Chorus Line. There are those of thus who act with our hearts and those of us who do not. In the end, I wonder who is happier?
We all know what happened in the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer. What appears to be good on paper, isn't always so good. When we enter into a relationship because it seems to "make sense" or "is the right thing to do" aren't we just setting ourselves up (those of us who live by our hearts instead of our heads) to be unfulfilled and resentful down the road? Or is it the other way, that the relationships we enter with fire and passion end up fizzling when life gets in the way? Or is the best approach to find the fire and keep it lit with all the things that make sense - similar life passions, activities, respect, emotional support?
I don't know the answers. That's why I'm asking. If you haven't taken note of my track record, I'm super bad at this.
Henry fought for his love of Anne for at least 6-7 years. He changed the law, he changed religion. And when she gave birth to Elizabeth and not a boy and then lost 2 pregnancies, Henry began to regret all he gave up for love.
It is difficult to tell if the Duke of Windsor regretted walking away from the royal life and the throne of England. Certainly, it seems that he did not. He loved his wife deeply and they made a very good life together.
I've given up a lot for love. If you read my posts, then you are probably someone who has as well. Perhaps to most people, my great sacrifice isn't as great as my head or the crown. I gave all of me, gambled and lost the life I knew. In the long run, maybe that's all all right. I don't know yet; I haven't hit the long run. I'm still sprinting and trying to catch my breath.
And despite my "great sacrifice," I'm willing to try it again. Maybe I'm a hopeless or hopeful romantic or just a glutton for punishment. I'll try to keep my head and I am more than willing to give up the crown to live a life filled with real love.
"There is no remedy for love but to love more."
-Henry David Thoreau.