Tuesday, 14 March 2017

secret: New Year's Eve, 2016 to 2017

Last time there were fireworks it was New Year’s Eve and I was dangerously close to going home with an unfamiliar boy from whom I’d felt an unspoken pull; that draw you get to a beautiful stranger; that tingle of mystery and recognition that can be endlessly romanticised, made all the more tantalising by virtue of the woman he had ignored on my behalf until she chased us down the street some time long after midnight.

I’d sat in the middle of one of the main streets of my hometown at 12 midnight, traffic be damned, with a clear view down the hill to those momentary and momentous bouquets of light and sound that meant something to those of us with resolutions, a year of shit to put behind us, dogs at home quailing at this faked thunder. 

I’d sat with a friend and his wife, our arms around each other by default, wishing each other all the things you’d expect of a New Year’s Eve. I’d steeled myself away from those "be better” promises, but I was pleased to see the back of a year that had dragged me with buckling knees into commitments, right past failed relationships I’d never given more than an “I wish” to. 

There’s a melancholy all of its own to realising you’re not even feeling particularly caught up in the sentiments of ringing in the shape of a new year. I found myself drawn into a long conversation with my friend about the nature of our friendships, which was telling of the year I’d been planning to have, but not of the year our friendship subsequently shaped up to look like. I worked to be heard over acquaintances and strangers singing hits from the 90s; we abandoned our important chat to sense-make snippets of conversation floating by us. 

Being made carefree by the hour of the morning, with the year still so new on my fingertips, I touched the shoulder of this beautiful stranger to launch myself into a back and forth on horoscopes. I laughed right into his face as he made a sparkly-eyed case for us two being an excellent match based upon the months we were born, as though we somehow knew each other quite aside from the basic facts we were missing. He asked my age, I asked his age. He asked if I liked girls or boys or both, and I asked him the same, and we smiled, complicit in our elusive answers and mutual interest.

Last time there were fireworks in my town, the night’s love story ended almost there, with a few small additional details in the shape of his female companion’s heartbreaking chase down the street (and my cluelessnes, or lack of finesse with pickup lines, or both). I am not one to steal someone out of the warmth of someone else’s heart where I can help it (no matter my fantasies). I am not one to wait to be chosen, either. 

There’s a story that goes something along the lines of, the way you spend the first hours of your new year determines the look and feel of the whole year ahead. For me, being wanted, and wanting, and then walking away on my own steam to my own house - that is my year, and perhaps more years to come. This is not a story of a pity party. I chose this, and I have power (that comes with the being wanted) and I listen to my heart (that comes with the wanting), and I reach to take the exact parts I want. 

All this is to say no more than that I remember the last time there were fireworks in this town; I remember the way they made me feel, which is really no more or less real and human than I’d already learned to feel. I remember the colours and the shapes, and the noise they made; I remember they went for longer than I’d expected, and I remember feeling the open space left over when they were done.