The evolution of New Year’s Eve is an interesting one, isn’t it? I remember as a kid going over to one of the neighbours’ houses and spending it crammed in a bedroom with my younger brother and the neighbours’ kids. I’m still friends with them today, all these years later. I remember spending hours taking turns playing Prince of Persia (2D!) with them until midnight hit and going downstairs to find both sets of parents absolutely loaded, and being completely mortified. That night was probably the reason I didn’t drink a thing until I was in my twenties.
I remember New Year’s Eve 1999 and all the excitement everyone around the world was sharing. I was 14, and I dressed up in the sparkliest silver dress I could find. We went to an out-of-town party in a big place where they had several halls, one designated for the under 18s. I can’t remember what was in it, but I think it was a fun time.
I remember New Year’s Eve in university, being 19 or so, having my first proper “group” of friends all come over for board games. I remember my parents coming home after their party and my dad joining us for a few rounds of Taboo. I think we played charades, too. I remember the feeling of pure content being surrounded by a group who simply adored each other’s company.
I remember New Year’s Eve newly single, sitting in my dad’s study writing out my resolutions for the upcoming year and chatting with an old friend overseas, comforted by the triumph of human connection over several time zones and thousands of miles.
I remember New Year’s Eve in Palm Springs, California, with a group of people I thought were going to become my family. I remember New Year’s Eve newly married, sad, scared and worried, because those people wanted me gone.
I remember the only time I ever ventured out on a Proper New Year’s Party. Tickets were $75, including cover and all drinks (which nobody could get anyway with the queues permanently thirty people long), but it was probably the worst one I’ve ever had. Someone had rented the Art Gallery and transformed it into an amazing venue with different themed rooms, DJs, even music on the roof, but their coat check volunteers had abandoned ship halfway through the night, and the holding space became a free-for-all looting session. Everyone was stealing everybody else’s belongings, and I remember sitting on the floor crying amidst the riot with my coat and camera missing. The police ended up getting called. I waited freezing for a good three hours before finally being able to get a cab home.
I remember last New Year’s Eve, going out for dinner with a splintered group of people who huddled in small clusters around a long table. I remember the lemon soup being the most delicious thing I’d ever had, and I remember being extremely thankful for a few people there, but more worried about being judged by the rest. I remember being new. I remember the excitement as 12:00 rang in a six-month anniversary with my boyfriend and running off on our own down empty snow-filled streets, setting off fireworks before dashing inside to warm up and drink peach champagne.
But I think this New Year’s Eve is going to be my favourite. I get to spend it with a handful of some of the best people I’ve ever known. If 2012 has taught me anything (well, it taught me a lot of things, but perhaps more so than anything else), it’s the value of actual love. Not just romantic love, but platonic love, too.
They say your real friends know you inside out, all the bad as well as the good, and love you anyway. But this year I actually saw that happen. I put my friends through a lot of crazy this year. I lost a few people because of it, but a handful were there through it all, all the tears, all the panic, all the worry and all the downright insane. There are things I put people through this year that I don’t even understand. They certainly didn’t, but they were there anyway, with hugs, reassurances in the middle of the night, and the occasional bottle of wine. They’ve shown me the meaning of the true human connection – when love outweighs absolutely anything else.
Friendship is a pretty amazing thing from a scientific standpoint – investing time, emotion and energy into a relationship without any evolutionary gain. The capacity to care is beautiful. It’s also pretty incredible when those relationships are completely open. I did some things this year I’d be embarrassed to write about here, but when you know someone is truly there for you, those things don’t become embarrassing because they’re crazy, they become embarrassing because you feel you let the other person down. Because they think you’re awesome, and sometimes, you’re not. 2012 was the year I realised with some people, I truly could be exactly the version of myself I am right now, and I didn’t have to worry about being judged. And for that, I’m simultaneously sorry and grateful beyond words.
I’m not going to make resolutions for 2013 – I have a pretty good 30 Before 30 on the go, and I’ve always maintained that you shouldn’t wait for an excuse like the turning of a calendar to start making things happen. I look back on 2012 with a deepened appreciation for those dearest to me, and I make them a hope and a promise: that they will always know how cherished they are, and that for their sake, I will always remember what I’ve learned, where we’ve been, what we’ve shared… and use that to be the best possible person I can be.
And for anyone reading these words, Happy New Year. I hope your 2013 brings introspection, courage, adventure and education. I hope your understanding of yourself and the world around you deepens and with it, an appreciation. I hope you chase your dreams, even if you’re afraid, because every day in this upcoming year is another chance to do something amazing. I hope that even if you screw something up, there’s something to be said about people that try. Besides, with the biggest cock-ups come the biggest lessons, and lessons are awesome. I hope you learn great things, read great books, and hear songs that set your soul on fire and make you proud to be part of the human race. I hope you remember small kindnesses and compliment strangers, and I hope, at least once per day, you find one thing to smile about.