New Year’s Day

Pajamas. A cup of coffee. A book. Sunlight filtering in through the window.  Really no different from any other morning, except maybe the lingering a little longer in pajamas.

Yesterday a late afternoon movie, Philomena. Dinner with friends, Mexican, after which we go back to their house, some champagne and caviar.  Really no different from any night out with friends, except maybe the champagne and caviar.  And echoes of Dick Clark, his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, this year’s host Ryan Seacrest. A trip down Music Memory Lane, a clip of Tina Turner (“Proud Mary”), one of the 30 Greatest Women in Music being celebrated. It’s that time of year—magazines online and in print giving us their idea of the greatest; we get to see if they match up with our own.

My husband jokes about my wanting to celebrate on December 30th, get it over with a day early. I’m just not feeling it this year—the hoopla, the swell of celebration, the need to mark the oh-so-significant cusp, one year giving way to another.  Take stock of what’s passed, look ahead to what we hope is in the stars.  More often than not, I’m supercharged at the notion of a fresh start. This year not so much.

Every day is different, every year is different. And every moment contains bits of past/present/future. The past lives in our bones, any trigger can set off the reminder of a joy long gone or tie us up in a knot of sorrow. The present—that place I would reside 24/7 if I could—lives with, and within, each breath, the cup it sees never half-full or half-empty, always a little of both.  The future lives outside of us, forever uncertain. To be comfortable with uncertainty is to recognize how little is in our control. Nothing like the last week of the year to encompass it all—the longing for what no longer is, the wish to be at ease with what is, anxieties that go hand in hand with what may (or may not) be coming.

We leave to go home before midnight, cozy up in bed.  “Gotta watch the ball drop,” says my husband, switching from station to station, snippets of movies, until the last minutes of 2013, a million people in Times Square on the screen, some in New York just for this reason, to be in the thick of it all when a glittering ball drops. I marvel at the spectacle of it. I kiss my husband.

One New Year’s Eve, when I was young and single and lived in the city, I decided I wanted to be riding the subway at the stroke of midnight.  I wanted to be with people not making a celebration of it all, just doing whatever it is that they might be doing any midnight of the week. Just for a change of pace.

Change of pace is good.  This year I got to spend my birthday in sunny California. There was something novel about photo-1getting on a plane when I was sixty-three and landing just after midnight, when I turned sixty-four.  My daughter did not have to wait to give me my presents, a Great Gatsby clutch and a CD.  A token gift, from a recent visit to Napa with her boyfriend would come a few days later: a purse ‘hook’ reminiscent of the one Barbra Streisand uses in The Guilt Trip. Something every woman needs.

On Christmas Day she sends me a video, evidence of the last bit of holiday shopping. Who wouldn’t be amused at watching two small dogs, a pug puppy and a mixed breed, wagging their tails with joy over new toys?  Turns out we’re both dog-sitting this week—she for her boyfriend’s dogs, me for my brother’s family dog.  Ginger is a sweet dog and does her best to adjust, even if she’s old and missing her fam. She knows me well, and, I like to think, knows I’m doing my best, too. You learn a lot watching an elderly dog try to find her comfort zones.

Time to get out of the P.J.’s, go take a walk.  The air is crisp, no wind, no bite, temperature in the low thirties. I stop at the lake, not yet frozen over.  The longer I fixate on the mottled surface ice, the more it appears to be moving.

13 thoughts on “New Year’s Day

  1. “To be comfortable with uncertainty is to recognize how little is in our control.” Such wise words, my dear friend! And it’s just what I plan to make my number one resolution. Thank you for another thought- also saw Philomena yesterday and absolutely loved it!)Happy New Year!

    • ‘Philomena’ was such a bittersweet film, wasn’t it? And the notion of being ‘comfortable with uncertainty’ really struck a chord when I read Pema Chodron’s book, which has that title. She’s way wiser than I am.

  2. I saw Philomena over the holidays, too. May be my favorite movie of the year. Judi Dench is a treasure. I kind of feel the way you do about the new year. I just want to slide into it like a pair of silk pj’s. I’m so grateful that the years of high-stake expectations and longings with all their angst and disappointments are behind me. All I really want for the new year is another day, and another, and another… with decent enough words spilling onto a page, good books to read, good friends to treasure , good horses to ride and good wine. Happy New Year, my treasured friend.

    • Judi Dench is indeed a treasure — I’ll see her (and Meryl Streep) in anything. As for expectations and longings, I think you’re right– they’ll find their way in the grand scheme of things as long as we have silk pj’s and books and good friends– not to mention good horses (and cute dogs) and good wine — to ease us into the New Year.

  3. Hi Deborah,
    This is beautiful. Happy new year from sunny FL.

  4. Dogsitting, watching a film, taking walks and looking at the lake sound like my style of celebration. No hoopla. No roar. This new year’s eve, I spent it babysitting my niece with family and watched ‘Before Midnight’ and finished right before midnight. 2014 began quietly, just the way I like it. Happy 2014, Deborah!

    • Watching ‘Before Midnight’ and finishing up before the movie ended sounds like something I would . . . if i hadn’t already seen the movie (which I enjoyed).

  5. Oh, that fourth paragraph is stunning and full of wisdom. And that desire to be riding the subway at the stroke of midnight – That really resonated with me. Lovely piece.

  6. Happy New Year, Deborah. I’ve been wanting to see Philomena and it seems like everyone who has seen it, likes it very much. Maybe tomorrow I’ll treat myself to a matinee. Would be a nice way to end my two weeks off of work before heading back on Monday, don’t you think?

  7. I’d love to ride the subway into the new year. What a great idea. Spending it with strangers, kind of like Blanche Dubois, right? Except no kindness involved, just a nice objectivity. Happy New Year. I was happy to just sit on Matt’s mother’s couch, stomach cramping from too much food.

  8. Happy New Year Deborah! Such a lovely piece. Spending New Year”s Eve with an 89 and 91 year old this year, sporting party hats, eating take out Chinese and watching Tina Turner take down the house was one of my favorite New Years. Simple, quiet and such a great reminder to our family that sometimes simply keeping on is the best celebration of all. A New Year’s morning run will also still always makes me feel like everything is right in the world, especially when followed by a big cup of coffee!

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