Just before New Year’s Eve, a friend asked me what my plans were and said she was likely doing nothing. New Year’s, she said, was always a lot of hype followed by a big disappointment. I knew exactly what she meant.

The Photographer was returning from South Dakota the evening of the 31st, and though we would spend the holiday together, we had no specific plans. I thought about what we could do to mark the occasion, what might be fun. I came up with nothing. The evening arrived. His plane was late. We went to a local restaurant for a late dinner, stayed to ring in the New Year with free champagne in little plastic cups, then walked home in a blistering windy cold. It was not a raucous, earth-shattering or epiphanic evening. But it was lovely.

On December 31st, we all collectively stop to feel time going by. We turn our attention to it fully for at least ten seconds and then some, counting down until the clock ticks over and another year arrives. We want to feel that in this moment, something changes. We want to feel some magic, some sense of renewal, or clarity, or understanding. It isn’t there. Time is our invention, and that one moment we choose to pay such attention to and invest with such importance is no different than the millions of other moments that make up our lives. That moment that we peak behind the curtain, of course there is disappointment, maybe sadness and emptiness, perhaps even fear.

One choice is not to observe that moment, go to sleep early or choose to be otherwise occupied. Another is to drink, dance and celebrate, willing the emptiness to dispel. This year, my experience was somewhere in between; I enjoyed the moment, as I have enjoyed so many other moments this year, with the Photographer, watching the world unfold around us. All choices are equally valid. I don’t know what my choice will be next year. But this year, it was nice to hold the fear and disappointment of existing in time and space in one hand, and the joy of it in the other.

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