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.