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Thoughts on NYE
Things you think about when you hide out alone in your wardrobe on the last day of the year because it’s all just a bit too much.
It’s the 31st of December, 2022. And it’s 4.20pm in the afternoon. Which means there are seven hours and forty minutes left of this year. Seven hours and thirty-nine minutes, by the time I finish writing this sentence.
We went to the library earlier today, all seven of us. Because that’s how we roll on NYE, apparently. Other people visit friends, get invited to parties, sunbathe at the beach, do shopping, have picnics, go to cafes and pubs. Us? We head for the library. I think there were only about five other people there—including the librarian. Funny that.
We’ve come home with two bags of books. An amusing assortment of Tintin comics, Asterix comics, car magazines, car books (think ‘how to build a car’), two 44 Scotland Street novels by Alexander McCall Smith, an Anthony Beever paperback, and three books by Haruki Murakami. No prizes for guessing which ones I borrowed.
I’ve read First Person Singular by Murakami before, but I couldn’t resist borrowing it again. After cleaning up from lunch and brewing my second coffee for the day, I settled down next to Rick on the couch and began reading the stories one by one. I finished two (‘Cream’ and ‘On a Stone Pillow’) before my coffee ran out, and now I’m onto tea. I’ve also moved upstairs into my ‘writing hole’ and left Rick asleep on the couch.
My writing hole is actually our wardrobe. Our walk-in wardrobe, to be exact. I still remember glimpsing the space for the first time when we were inspecting the property. Why on earth would anyone need so much room for their clothes, I said out loud to Rick. When our rental application got accepted, I spent weeks agonising over the fact that this strange empty space would be lurking at the end of our wardrobe, like some unwanted visitor, making it impossible for me to feel that our bedroom was cosy and safe. Initially, I stored unwanted photo frames in here, but that only made it even more impersonal. Then one day, I remembered the writing desk I had in the walk-in wardrobe back at our old house, and I realised that was the answer to my ludicrous first-world problem.
So here I am. Hauled up in my little cubby hole, typing away on my MacBook Pro, a cup of tea at my right elbow, and Murakami’s compilation of short stories on my lap. Rick is still snoozing downstairs on the couch, and the boys are scattered around the house—some drawing, some reading, and some chatting (somewhat) quietly with each other. When I lean back, I can see myself in the black floor mirror that I bought for $69 from IKEA. In the dim light, the circles under my eyes are somewhat hidden, and I don’t look overly tired. My hair is wavy and frizzy—a tell-tale sign of the lovely humidity—and my five-dollar IKEA t-shirt is crinkled from its recent wash. There’s nothing glamorous about the woman staring back at me in the mirror, but, you know what? She’s cheerful, relaxed, and content. Even if she does look slightly emotional.
There’s something about the end of this particular year that feels weightier than previous NYEs. Something that I haven’t quite been able to articulate. In the car today, my nine-year-old exclaimed at least twice, ‘Oh no! It’s the last day of 2022!’ And both times, I felt like crying. And even now, in the solitude of this small space that I’ve designated mine, I still do.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I haven’t spent much time with my parents this year. There is remorse and regret in that. Perhaps it’s the fact that I didn’t get the job I really wanted last month. There’s disappointment and disenchantment in that. Perhaps it’s the fact that I feel lost, uncertain of what path I want to take next year with work and art. There’s uneasiness and uncertainty in that. Or perhaps it’s the fact that our world seems more damaged and more discordant than ever. There’s helplessness and hopelessness in that.
But as I sit here listening to the chatter of the boys on the other side of the wall, the truth clutches at my heart. No doubt I have been in emotional denial, but the fact that our middle boy is starting high school next year marks a significant shift in our family dynamic. It’s a new milestone of sorts—one that doesn’t get much air time in your traditional memory books or Hallmark cards, but a milestone nonetheless. Having more high schoolers than primary schoolers suddenly makes us a family of older kids, and while this doesn’t sound like such a big deal (especially when compare to bigger world issues), this mama’s heartache is real.
Where did my babies go? And how did this happen so quickly?
Rhetorical questions, clearly, because the answers are obvious:
1. They grew up.
2. That’s time for you.
Speaking of time, it’s now quarter to five, and we need to leave. We’re taking the boys out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and then we’ll come home, eat classic vanilla Drumsticks, watch the fireworks, and put on our annual glow-in-the-dark dance party with my 90s playlist. Think Britney, Shaggy, and Backstreet Boys.
It’s going to be wild.