We were on the road, coming home from a friend’s house where we spent the night, when the sun rose this morning. The still morning was suddenly washed in amber streams, and I couldn’t help but feel that 2010 was starting on a beautiful note.
My parents always made December 31st feel special. The traditions were simple when I think about them today, but me and my brother looked forward to that day every year. A bottle of sparkling grape juice, beef tenderloin, and poor man’s lobster were always on the menu. We rented movies to play until midnight, and spread blankets on the floor in front of the television so that we could be on a picnic while enjoying our movie snacks.
I remember the close of 1999 so clearly with all the hype about the Y2K bug and imminent Armageddon. I was a senior in high school, and I remember finding all of the talk absurd. I was not then, and really am not now, a Prince fan (or, the artist formerly known as Prince, as he was known in 1999), so you can imagine how irritating the constant replay of that one song was for me. What a ride the last ten years have been.
As 2002 approached, I made the decision to change my lifestyle. A serious chest pain scared my then 20-year-old self into reevaluating the eating and exercise habits that had learned throughout childhood. My mother had begun successfully losing weight the year before, and I suppose she gave me the “this is possible” drive to succeed.
At the end of 2004, I was visiting my parents from North Carolina. My brother had other plans that year, but for nostalgia’s sake, Mom, Dad, and I dined on sparkling grape juice, beef tenderloin, and poor man’s lobster. We watched sappy romance movies all night. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last New Year’s Eve that I would spend with my mother.
The next year brought a lot of crappy surprises, and I move that it just be stricken from the record. I was getting a cold and my mother had a compromised immune system at the end of December, 2005. My aunts were celebrating the night elsewhere. Mom did not feel like going out, and Dad was at a neighbor’s party. She and I spoke over the phone, each in our own empty homes. We were both ready to close the awful year, but it was such a lonely night. She said to me, and I’ll never forget, “2006 will be much better for both of us.”
In a way she was right. In January, she stopped suffering from that awful disease, and Heaven is her reward. I met Nick and started going about the business of living again, even though me and my aunts were plagued with weird illnesses all that year (and the time since). I guess it was a better year than the last, but Debbie still announced that she planned on drinking an entire bottle of Asti on New Year’s Eve to send 2006 packing with a resounding “Goodbye and good riddance!”
The past few years have been busy with school and doctors, and 2009 slipped through my fingers. I couldn’t help but make the comparison between last night and that night ten years ago. Sipping champagne with Nick and friends, confident in my power to take control of my life…the 18 year old had her parents and her traditions, but she really hadn’t figured out herself yet. (It’s just too bad that you can’t have it all.)
I think 2010 holds a lot of promises. With the end of school less than a year away, I feel such excitement that at this time next year, I might have free time! I am grateful to still have a job and a roof over my head (which is no small feat in today’s world), and I am thankful for the relationships I have with my family. I don’t know if I have ever told them, but I couldn’t have made it this far without my aunts in my corner. I had to work to build a better relationship with my father at first, but I now cherish our closeness.
And there’s Nick. Our first date was New Year’s Day, 2006. Four years later, I still wonder how I was able to find (and keep!) such a kind and loving person. He possesses a rare decency, and I am lucky to have him.
2010 can’t help but go right.