I was Trying to Write Something About the New Year but I Wrote Whatever This is Instead
I am not awake to see the New Year dawn. I am sleeping off the effects, not of too much champagne, but of just enough Nyquil to knock me out for a full night’s sleep. The night before, I left my own party still going strong downstairs in my home and went to bed. “Go get some sleep,” my friends told me. “We’ll clean up for you.” They did. I assume my husband helped.
I wake on the first day of 2019 with the familiar weight of my cat pinning me to the bed. She likes to sleep perched on my hip or thigh. I don’t want to disturb her, but I have to blow my nose, so I gently roll over to displace her. This head cold settled in immediately after my husband and I returned to the Midwest following a Caribbean Disney cruise with his family. I spent four days on a boat filled with children. The person behind me on the flight home coughed into the back of my seat. Getting sick was inevitable.
I was going to start going to the gym when I got home. It wasn’t so much a New Year’s resolution as it was an I-have-a-couple-days-off-and-maybe-I-can-start-to-build-a-habit-I’ve-been-meaning-to-work-on-because-I’d-like-to-gain-some-upper-body-strength-to-get-better-at-rock-climbing intention. Instead I prepped frantically for the fancy New Year’s party my husband’s girlfriend and I have planned to host together, and then I sit on my couch and watch TV and read and consider napping but almost never actually nap. I think that I should write something, but I am too tired to do it. The cat sits on my lap a lot.
I think about writing something hopeful: New year, new beginnings! New chances to build a better world!
I think about writing something cynical: New Year’s is just an arbitrary day and marks no actual change. New year, same as the old year.
I think about writing, “I think about writing nothing ever again, because what’s the point in it,” but that isn’t true; I never actually thought that, it’s just a thing that enters my head as something I could write. It’s the sort of thing someone might think, probably. Not this someone, though — no, probably, I’m too convinced of my own worthiness as a writer to ever consider simply not writing. What would be the point in that?
I go back to work. New year, same as the old. My boyfriend sends me pictures of his friend’s cat from across the country. Family Christmases mean fifteen days of apartness, with only a brief span of four hours in the middle to see each other in person, on the same day I flew home, the day before he flew away.
I flip to Facebook in the middle of writing this, idly looking for either distraction or an actual through line, some kind of point, and instead am greeted by the smiling face of my boyfriend’s other girlfriend, her husband, and a friend of theirs, formerly a mutual friend of ours, with a caption about being excited for the New Year.
Thanks to two of the people in that photo, in part assisted by the guy sending me cat pictures, I’ve been often more seeping wound than woman for the better part of two years. They’re pumped for 2019. I’m still cleaning up the shrapnel of 2016. I’m a lot better now at not slicing myself open on the edges, but still, sometimes a shard slides in beneath a fingernail when I’m trying to dispose of it, or hides unseen until I step on it with bare feet.
I unfollow the once-mutual friend who posted the photo. This is not the first time it’s happened. I should have unfollowed her ages ago, I suppose, but masochism is a strange drug. Or maybe it’s pride that is the drug, and I have been trying to prove to myself that I can endure these unexpected wounds with equanimity. That I am strong enough. But what’s the point in it?
Anyway, it’s not like my own social media from the past two years is filled with photos of my angers and anguishes. No, those feelings are for setting down in words, because damn it, I may as well put them to good use as a tortured writer cliché.
My boyfriend sends me cat pictures. Soon I will tell him goodnight, and he will tell me that he loves me. Tomorrow I’ll complain to him about some stupid thing at work and maybe he’ll send me photos of his nephew, and in a week and a half we’ll go back to our regularly-scheduled relationship therapy appointment and then talk for a while alone in the car afterward.
Tonight my husband will come to bed soon after I do. He’ll kiss me on the shoulder, because he doesn’t want my germs, and then I’ll put my cold feet on him to warm them up, and he’ll grumble good-naturedly. In the morning, he’ll get up early to feed the dog and I’ll wake again with the cat roosting on my hip.
What’s the point? Who cares?
The meaning of life is just the living of it. New year, same as the old.