The cheers, the whistling, the joyful jostling consumed the room as the clock struck midnight and we were pushed, suddenly and violently, into 2020.
People were hugging, kissing, drunkenly singing Auld Lang Syne, slurring ‘happy new year’ into the phone, to their families miles away. Or just down the road, having a quiet one. We made our annual vows to make this year better, messier, louder, than the one that had just passed us by. In a blink.
We vowed to live our lives to the fullest, to travel the world, to quit our jobs, to cut people off, to make more money, to find love, to achieve things we hadn’t achieved over the last 365 days. We vowed… that this would be the year. Women in bathrooms telling each other they were too beautiful to let that man into 2020; leave him behind, you’re stunning, he doesn’t deserve you. Take my number, we should all go out one night.
The atmosphere was all joy; vodka, rum and whiskey sending sentiments sky high.
By the end of the night, strangers were sitting knee-to-knee, having wide-eyed conversations as they took shots together. Tequila, to melt away old memories and make space for new ones. The room softened and lines blurred.
‘2020 will be our year.’
The morning after.
Head pounding as if a rabid animal were flying around in it, dark wings smacking the insides of your skull. You’re lethargic, your throat hurts with every cough as your body tries to sweat out last night’s toxins. You look up at your friend sitting in front of you as you sip flat Coke from a straw in Nando’s. Everyone around you looks about the same; tired, shaky hands, legs aching from dancing for hours, vowing to never drink again.
‘I’m not going out ever again,’ you groan, and you both laugh because you know that’s not true. Give it a couple months.
Or maybe a couple years.
You visited that Nando’s once more and never again. You don’t even know if you remember how to dance, or if your knees are brittle from all the evenings spent slumped on the sofa.
But you can do Tesco with your eyes shut and people no longer breathe down your neck in the queue. The only thing you look forward to these days is the Hermes delivery guy, so you spend and you spend and you spend. Your makeup doesn’t deplete as fast as it used to, because you started to find more of it on the inside of a mask by the end of the day, and then your skin broke out in defiance so you let it breathe. You used to complain about the five-day work week, fuck Henry Ford, and…well, you still do. All you do is work, sleep, and eat. Pay day comes around and is this really what my life is worth?
It’s September now, and you barely turn the news on anymore. A flustered Boris, tenacious Trump. Hancock crying…well, trying.
More figures, more numbers flying around – they don’t even scare you anymore. You’ve lost routine and you don’t know how to function because… you need structure. Direction. And it’s all dissolved into thin air.
Your 7am alarm seems pointless when you don’t need to miss the morning traffic. You don’t have a direct-debit for home-workouts, so you can do it another day. We wanted to know if pubs were going to stay open, and they did. Now we need to know if we’re going to be allowed to say goodbye to our loved ones, or they have to die alone on the other side of the glass. We had to choose between saving lives and saving the economy, so, obviously, we did neither.
Crisis plagues people as they’re stuck with their thoughts, stuck with a self they never knew if they liked until they were forced to hang out with the man in the mirror: what am I here for? What am I doing? Who am I anymore? Is this life now? Is there an end?
I’m standing still as the world turns, around and around. And around. Time is passing me by… but I’m not noticing that we’re all in the exact. Same. Boat.
Well, except the ones safe in their yachts, with cocktails and friends and disposable notes.
For the rest of us, everything changed in the blink of an eye, and then slowed
And suddenly, we lost twelve months. To one single, little incident. It won’t reach us, it’ll be over in two weeks. Yet here we are, back where we started.
The domino effect.
But we start again.
A fresh set; a brand new piece to decide how the last will fall.
Another year ahead; twelve months to be more cautious, to consciously fill every single minute with something worthwhile. To take risks, to create, to fall in love by accident, to love ourselves on purpose. We’ve had time to learn, to grow, to realise what matters.
We counted down the seconds to this new year regardless, because we look forward to a clean slate, to newfound optimism. To starting over, with new lessons this time.
Or we were so busy starting the year off right, we didn’t even realise the clock struck midnight.
Good spills over and multiplies, dripping on the new lease we have on life.
So here I am. Welcoming 2021, with a little salt and a little lime.