And what to do with the pittance that remains of 2018? In my misspent youth I would be arranging and rearranging my outfit for New Year’s Eve right about now, would burn up the phone lines with plans and agendas and shopping lists and logistics for the Night of Nights.
Oh, there was high drama, almost certainly, as plans changed, members of my partying posse dropped off the list, or new people had to be accommodated. And what to wear, what to wear? This was the question that kept us up at night, staring at the ceiling, kept us in the mall, kept us perusing the cosmetic counters in search of the perfect shade of blush, lipstick, that hideous blue eye shadow.
We wanted snow and frosted windows to go with our wools of winter white, our sparkly sweaters. Our fellas would appear, dashing in new leather jackets, but shivering like delicate flowers or stray puppies, because, anyone will tell you, leather is cold.
Too often the evening ended, if not in disaster, then disappointment, because no matter the attention to detail, New Year’s in reality would never be mistaken for a snowy and romantic Manhattan soiree, with twinkling lights, and lavish apartments and guests as glittery as the ball in Times Square.
We always knew we were not in New York City, but Owensboro, Lexington, or Louisville, the places I was most apt to ring in the New Year. I I think in those days we just tried too hard, frantically working to have fun, for anything less than a legendary evening was just a total waste of time.
My current outfit for New Year’s now is one of my favorites, something soft and well-worn, and like the sign I saw once advertising an upscale car wash—it delivers the promise of “nuthin’ touchin’ “ I may be with friends and family, and some years I am home before darkness falls. On occasion I am home in time to celebrate the turning of the calendar with Great Britain. One New Year’s Eve I celebrated with the Marshall Islands as I drank my morning coffee, just to get it over with.
I appreciate these quiet New Year’s, and I prepare them, too, but with less fervor and fever, and with more gratitude and warm regards for the year. I am grateful for the year just done—if it was a good one, then thank you very much.
If it was a bad one, or a challenging one, or a sad one, then, I am grateful for its going. And I look to the new year for some relief or a change of perspective and patience.
I buy new notebooks, calendars, journals, and pens. I admire my penmanship on those first few entries, letters lined up like neat little soldiers marching across the page. By February I am back to writing on the backs of envelopes, my letters slanting, illegible—sometimes I can’t decipher what I have just written, and it doesn’t matter anyway.
I will lie awake and reorder my plans as I stare at the ceiling, too lazy to turn on a lamp and write it down, committing it all to memory, awaking with no recall whatsoever. I have given up on some of my organizational interventions and embraced others. I still think the perfect calendar will save me, but I only think of it in the same way I think unicorns might have once been real, or the way I envision a parallel universe—it’s interesting and I am open to the possibilities but it has no relevance in my day to day life.
I enter into this new year a lot calmer than I have in years past. I spent 2018 getting rid of things—objects, activities and obligations that no longer bring joy to my life.
In a recent interview the British actress, Hermione Norris, said that one way she keeps depression at bay is to be mindful of the company she keeps. I read that, then I read it again. It resonated with me. I cast about and took a serious look at who was rubbing off on me in good ways and bad, who causes me pain, who enriches me.
I made some adjustments.
This too, is a kind of uncluttering.
So, come ahead on, 2019.
I will be well-rested and relaxed when you peek over the horizon on a cold Kentucky morning. I will have be lighter and less encumbered. I will be the one drinking coffee and looking east, patiently waiting for you, and a new day, to begin.