Ah, and so another January arrives. This one on the first palindrome year since 1991 (and before that, 1881).
The whole concept of the new year is so surreal. As I was listening to the jazz-style tune on NPR (that’s right, no telly this year, and as usual no company), I pondered why.
In THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, there was a great thought on the new year. It was said that everyone was so excited about the new year because of that one brief moment of time they wanted so badly to capture. They count down and say to themselves, this is it! I’ve got it! But by then it’s past.
What I want to know is what exactly in that moment of time they want, what is so desirable about it. The joy? The possibility that things might be better?
For me, that moment has never quite meant that much; I do, though, make it a tradition to stay up for it, and passively celebrate it in some way (it’s usually by watching Times Square on NBC, how mainstream). I always get this odd, almost unreal feeling as I watch everyone four hours away whooping and hollering and just plan being happy. (It’s one of the only times in history when such a large number of people converge on such simple bliss.) The joy factor intensifies this feeling, but is not the source. It’s a weird form of nostalgia, which causes me to believe that my emotional reaction to the new year is one of reflection rather than one of looking ahead.
As a non-Christian, the physical turn of the year of course means nothing to me, but it’s a good way to count the passing of one section of one’s life as any other. Because I am young (this is only my twenty-second new year), each year is quite a section, and always one upon which to reflect serious and often for quite some time. My issues with getting older have increased this nostalgic yet somehow hopeful reflection within the past few years, and because I see that dwindling over the next few, I feel the need to capture it.
Of course things have changed since the first of 2001, though much less than other years (and perhaps more than others). It’s not the secular changes I wish to remember, but more the spiritual and psychological ones. And because I didn’t record that last year, I cannot say – save for a vague and subjective recollection – where I was and how far I’ve come.
Secularly, things have changed enough to know they have changed emotionally. Though still in City Year, it is a tremendously different experience. I am caring for my first tattoo that I got but days ago. I am preparing a college application, a thing even a few months ago I wouldn’t have thought possible. Last week was my first date in four years; last year that same week, I was having my last one-night-stand, which was also my last sexual encounter. The seasons that have passed – a neurotic winter, an idealistic spring, a summer spent sick, a fall spent confused – are further segments of time, marked in perfect quarters of the year for more specific reflection. Ah, the seasons themselves can change one, can’t they? Before the spring there was no boat; before the summer there was no cyzygy in Chicago; before the fall there was no Antioch; and before now… well, that is still on the horizon.
Not to give the impression that it was all grand. Oh no. Let us not forget the emotional regression of the early months. Or the downfall of reverence of the crew and captain. Or the pain of knowing it was my last free summer and though I had a car and all the freedom in the world was too sick to do anything – even go to Bar Harbor for that gloriously unplanned week of running away. Or the bitter resentment of my newly discovered work situation, and having to come to terms with it the best I could because no one would help me.
I still need that bloody vacation. Though I am not doing resolutions this year, that may be the closest to one. I need out. Away. Before the next chunk of my life is planned.
Which it just may be, come spring, and which just may be in full swing, come the first of 2003.
So I guess the changing of the year is as good a way as any to count the passage of time. To mourn it, reflect upon it, and impatiently anticipate what the next round will bring. To remind one how far one has come, and how far one has to go.
In my case, both are considerable, which leaves me with mixed feelings.