Five years ago, on New Year’s Eve, I was living in Brooklyn but had been home in Pennsylvania for Christmas and though I don’t remember why or how, I guess I returned early. I went to Astoria to celebrate. It was my first New Year in the city. It was my first away from family. It was my first that I ever went out, instead of sat in basements eating wings and playing games and drinking weird old beer and watching the real grown-ups celebrate and kiss each other and hug their families. It was sadder than I expected.
The first girl I ever flirted with, who turned into the first girl I ever had sex with, invited me to join she and her friends for happy hour followed by karaoke followed by, probably, sex again, which she left out but I assumed.
I wore a denim shirt and black jeans from Old Navy. It was so boring and I didn’t feel that hot but I did feel grown up. Not in the way where you take your family to another family’s basement party, but in the way where you pack a secret extra toothbrush and deodorant in your bag because you might not make it home. In the darker way. In the 23 year old way.
I went to her place and her friends were all there and they had brought wines and appetizers and cheeses, and I probably brought nothing, but I mingled and I watched her host and it made me feel good to know that I’d be coming back to her place with her later. I’d be the one to wake up there the next morning. I liked knowing that as they casually tried to get to know me.
We went downstairs to the bar where we already knew the old Irish bartenders, which was painfully New York and wonderfully comforting. We had a lot of drinks. I don’t remember how I paid for things back then. We sang some songs. Someone passed out New Year’s Eve headbands and noisemakers. The ball dropped, just miles away. My dad called me. I was in a bar amidst screaming people who, seemingly, were not getting similar calls. My best friend at the time, who was a 45 year old former employer turned mentor turned employer turned pseudo-parent and with whom I was wholly and secretly and probably not yet knowingly in love, texted me. I’m not sure if I answered my dad. I answered her. She was with her sons, who barely spoke to her, not because they weren’t on good terms but because they were spoiled, rude boys. She said she was having fun. I said the same. I guess I was. I missed her.
Back on my end of the line, in New York, we had more drinks. One of her best friends got too rowdy and fell off a barstool and broke a glass. It scared me a little. Her fiancée escorted them home. We left, too. We went back up to her place. Her cousin was staying with her that weekend. She was a bit younger than us, and she slept on the couch when we retired to her bedroom. We had sex.
I felt so mature, saying goodnight to the sweet, young, touristy outsider, and sneaking away to touch each other. Knowing she probably knew what we were up to, but being grown enough to be cool about it, like you’d do with your older sister and her boyfriend who finally got to share a room on a family vacation.
I never came. I never did, ever. But I definitely didn’t that night. She did. I left the room. I threw up. I was so drunk. I brushed my teeth. I put on a jersey she had in a basket on the floor. I thought it was so funny. Two lesbians who just wanted to listen to Wicked and sing karaoke. Sex on New Year’s Eve. Football jersey. Like ‘welcome to the team’ or something. I laughed at that for a long time.
She put on The L Word. She fell asleep against me. All I could think about was telling my best friend. “Sorry— was at Her place!” Coy, so she’d ask. So she’d call me and ask, tomorrow, on my way home. It’d take over an hour for me to get home anyway. I wanted to have something to look forward to.
I didn’t like being out that year, and I never did it again. Not yet, at least. I like being home. I like being with my family, in basements and living rooms, where I can take their calls. I like the idea that I could be with my best friend and only my best friend and be happy. I like a lot of ideas. And still, I have never had a New Year’s Eve yet that’s felt right.
I feel sad on New Year’s Eve. I don’t like when things end. I like when things begin, and I like when things are happening. Now, this year, I’m laying in bed alone. It’s 11:54. My teenage sister is on the phone. My mom is downstairs in bed with the dog. The first girl I ever had sex with moved to Boston and she has a girlfriend now. I wonder if she still has the jersey. My dad will still call. I probably won’t answer. My best friend is no longer in the picture. She’s probably with her sons. I’m sure they’re not talking much. And I’m alone.
I don’t like endings. On this night, I feel too much pressure to look back and know the story of the year. I don’t know the story of this year. Maybe in five years, I’ll be able to write that one down. Maybe next year, I’ll be brave enough to write it all down. But next year is tomorrow. And even though it’s the day for making promises to yourself, it feels too big. There’s too much.
It’s midnight now. My window is open. I love the chill of winter when the heat is on and I’m under big blankets and I’m not worried about my parents telling me I’m letting the hot air out. This is the first year of my life I haven’t watched the ball drop. People in their homes on my block are counting down. I hear them, and I pause, and I count with them. I wonder if they’re happy. I wonder who they’re with, and who they’ll kiss, and if they feel nothing or if they secretly feel too much or if they feel just right. My dad just texted me. I’ll answer. Fireworks go off for a while.
It’s tomorrow now. And I’m still writing it all down.
About the Creator
Tina is a queer writer in Brooklyn, who uses Google mostly to image search 45-year-old women in suits, and Twitter mostly to report on her findings. She has a deep obsession with narrative, a CAROL tattoo, and, relatedly, a degree in film.