Three More Days [ 2004-12-28, 11:43 p.m. ]

I realized last night that come Friday, I will have spent three consecutive New Year’s Eves with a good friend of mine and her husband. I am not one for tradition or sentiment or sentimentality or heck, even outward displays of emotion, for that matter, but realizing that for the third year in a row I will toast the future with the same people I clinked glasses with last year and the year before made me feel good.

I like New Year’s. I like a holiday with little or no family obligations, no gifts to exchange, no Very Special Episodes airing on TV. I like the idea of a fresh start and I like some time to reflect as well as some time to celebrate. And I like champagne, lots and lots.

Kent and I tried to trace our way back through the New Year’s Eves that we’ve spent together. Last year we had dinner with 10 other people at a restaurant nearby. The year before that we had dinner with BritGirl and her husband. The year before that (2001 if I’m counting right) is a complete black hole in my memory, although it may have been the year we had dinner with Cassie my Toxic Friend and Jay and his long-gone Negative Boyfriend Who Hated Everything And Worked At Cirque Du Soleil. (Any wonder why I’ve blocked out that year?) 2000 was pizza and beer with Cassie (the Toxic) and her boyfriend, and in 1999 I greeted Y2K with a severe case of the flu. 1998 was a great New Year’s Eve, but I rung in 1999 kissing someone else, completely unaware that later in the year I would start dating Kent and really, really unaware that a few years later I would marry him.

For the most part, a pretty obvious pattern emerged as we walked our way through December 31sts: dinner with friends, home by 1:00 a.m., asleep by 2:00. Comfortable. Fun. Relaxing. Lovely. It’s the first real holiday tradition we’ve established and maintained, certainly the only New Year’s Eve tradition I’ve embraced since I decided drinking Diet Coke-and-rum-and-scotch-and-wine coolers-and-orange juice at Stacy Dorfman’s while we watched the MTV countdown was o-v-e-r.

Kent told me that his New Year’s Eve tradition throughout high school and college was going to a party at some skanky girl named Nikki’s house and smoking a cigar with his best friend Jeff at midnight. I told him I couldn’t believe he was ever friends with someone named Nikki-with-two-k’s-and-an-i.

Maybe it’s because I am old and married and boring, but I feel no pressure on New Year’s Eve. All I feel is desire for good food, true friends and a short walk to my bed at the end of the night. Staying home and ordering pizza sounds as inviting to me as any other offer, more so since it offers the possibility of ushering in the new year in stretchy pants and a ponytail. I am not a fancy lady.

I was making dinner the other night and Kent and I were talking about New Year’s Eve (read: I was reminding him where we were eating and who all would be there), and he made mention of an alternate plan. “Maybe one year it would be fun to get dressed up, like in tuxedos-n-stuff, and go with a group of people to one of those fancy ballroom parties?”

“Um…HELLO DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME AT ALL? BECAUSE I HATE GETTING DRESSED UP AND I HATE PEOPLE AND I HATE BALLROOMS AND HOTELS AND CLEARLY YOU DO NOT KNOW ME AND OUR MARRIAGE IS DOOMED. PLEASE HAND ME THE CILANTRO FROM THE FRIDGE.” I shrieked and shrilled and Kent retreated in total terror as I berated his idea over and over again. “I want to WALK HOME after dinner on New Year’s Eve and I want to WEAR JEANS and I don’t want to be in some ROOM WITH STRANGERS and WHERE IS THE CILANTRO???”

My poor husband stared at me, trying to figure out exactly which sequence of words awoke this particular banshee. “Calm down, CALM DOWN,” he said to me. “I did not suggest that we go out and ritually sacrifice puppies on New Year’s; I suggested a GALA, not a stoning.” But I hate getting dressed up and I like being close to home and I like quiet nights and I like comfort and the idea of a fancy hotel party makes me want to BARF, I explained. “I hate those things,” I said in conclusion. “But I don’t,” said Kent.

So I don’t know how many more New Year’s Eves will be spent at quiet dinners in Brooklyn with my friends, because I am finally starting to get it…marriage means sometimes, you let your husband dress up and take you out even if you want to wear jeans and eat sushi at the place around the corner. But I do not see the ballroom gala anywhere in my near future…it may be out there, but it is not in my vision quite yet.

What is in my vision is Friday night, and Saturday night. Friday night is out with the old and in with the new, celebrating with my friends, old and new as well. I like tidiness and symmetry, so the fact that my last day of work is December 31 is not lost on me. I will go to work and say goodbye and head out to dinner and toast the new year and resolve to do some things differently and some things better. And Saturday is January 1 and I will start fresh.

And what are my resolutions? Little things, mostly. Call my parents more, do my laundry every week, eat leftovers, recycle, take the dog for longer walks, change cell phone carriers, go to the dentist regularly. I am firmly convinced it’s the little things that make all the difference.

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