What an odd feeling: renewal.Between chapters of Danny Meyer's memoir slash inspirational tome slash bible-for-every-type-of-business, I thumped the hardcover down on the duvet and sprang out of bed. "What?" Mark said. Mark. My fiancé. We'll be married this year. "I'll be right back." "What are you doing?" he asked, as I rushed out of the bedroom hours before my alarm is set to wake me, to start my new job. A new job. Back to work full time with a client I've loved for years. "I'll be right back."
The Timehop app sent my iPhone a push notification this morning, and with one near-sighted eye closed and the other squinting at the tiny screen, I scrolled through New Year's Days past, back through five years of life (lives, actually, maybe) and what I saw was regret. Sadness. Utter contempt for myself. The same Death Cab for Cutie lyric: So this is the new year. And I don't feel any different.
Ah, but today, I do. This morning, I woke up and I did feel different. Without even knowing it, I closed my eyes last night and hit the reset button. I made a promise for this year — yes, a resolution — to let myself just be. And I started early: I didn't write any Facebook posts about The Year That Was. Expressed no regret, no sadness about mistakes I'd supposedly made. No contempt for myself. I did plenty of that during the course of last year.
It started to snow yesterday afternoon and didn't stop all day. It's a marshmallow world, a winter wonderland; today I was a child staring into a self-shaking snow globe. Somehow, I woke up, threw open the curtains and just felt…different.
New Year's Eve could have been terrible. I'm prone to horrible New Year's Eves. Mark and I made dinner; I bought an Amish chicken and everything we needed for a proper rustic late-night French meal. And it was a perfectly spectacular failure. The chicken was laughably undercooked, beyond the point of saving before the Ball dropped. The carrots had cooked in the juices of the not-even-close-to-done chicken. The roast potatoes were on their way to cold. The garlic spinach was the only truly edible dish. (Even the cheese we'd bought for our snooty Francophile "dessert course" was subpar. [When is cheese ever terrible?]) The evening's wine pulled off a heroic gastronomic recovery.
But the dinner could have ruined my night. I could have let it…it's taken far less in the past.
Instead, we had our midnight champagne toast — Mark's breath reeked of the two bites of smoked herring he'd choked down moments earlier, a Polish tradition promising good luck in the coming year — then we transferred our bubbles into flimsy plastic party cups and bundled up to our eyes. We crunched down the sidewalk of our side street and onto Lincoln Avenue, lifting our glasses to paper-crowned revelers still hunkered down in bars where they'd counted down to midnight. I made a snow angel in Welles Park, completely forgetting that my yoga pants would be soaked through, and from the middle of a snow-covered baseball diamond, we watched big, bright, illegal fireworks shot from a rooftop down the street.
On our way home we beamed, our smiles all but frozen on our snow-wet faces. Passing couples wished us Happy New Year, and I thought, "You have no idea."
What am I doing? I'm keeping my promise to myself. This is the new year, and I feel…so, so different. And what a thrill just to embrace it for once.