Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let's try that again, but this time, without all the yucky stuff.

Last New Year's Eve I finished work at 9 o'clock at night. I wandered along the river and watched the fireworks set off for kids so's they didn't miss out before bed time, and then walked home. It was fiercely hot. The majority of the main roads were blocked off, so I indulged in the trivial novelty of walking down the middle of tram tracks. Swanston Street was so ridiculously utterly packed with people it was even hotter. I fought my way to my apartment, poured myself a cold drink, and wrote for the next two hours. Half an hour before midnight I ventured out again, equipped with a bottle of water. I let the crowd pull me up Swanston and across the Princess Bridge to Alexandra Gardens, where I found a retaining wall to lean against. It was magma hot. The fireworks went off. It was centre of the earth hot. I finished my water, and followed the crowd back up to the Princess Bridge, and the first cold sweat hit me. I'd already fainted two and a half times that year, recognised the warnings and knew what I needed to do; sit down and have a long cold drink. I could do neither. Police officers allowed no one to stop the flow of the crowd. I was out of water and there was nowhere to refill. I was two blocks from home, but the speed at which traffic moved it would take me half an hour to get there. Still, I did the best I could, staying close to the railing and stopping to lean on it whenever my vision started to go black. This happened every ten metres or so. Five metres. It took me twenty minutes to cross the bridge. I wasn't going to make it. A group of police were gathered around a man handcuffed and sitting on the ground, waiting for more members before escorting him away. I paused by them. One member told me to move on. I asked if I could sit down for a bit. She shook her head. I said, "okay", and went to rest my head on the rail, just for a moment before setting off again. There is a minute or so missing from my life, in which I finally fainted, hit the paving hard, and was hauled out of the way by the cops. They gave me water, when I came back, and asked me if I'd taken anything. No, I haven't even been drinking. Just dehydrated and too hot. They had work to do, and after a minute left with their offender. Fainting is a bit like vomiting; once you've got it over with, you have a window of reprieve to feel okay. I chugged the water they'd given me and bolted home, where I lay on the floor with another large cold drink and thought about nothing.

Summary: I spent the night alone, surrounded by strangers, watching overhead wonders, falling apart, distraught and unable to get home.

I'm not usually one to subscribe to suburban superstition - reading old horoscopes is bad luck, 11:11 on the clock is good luck, how you spend New Years is how you'll spend the rest of the year - but it kinda set the tone for 2008, and the following months didn't deviate from it.

This NYE, I'll be working again. Actually, I'm working every single public holiday this season, which...okay, I can't complain. I need the money, and I don't have such a huge social life to warrant any significant days off. But. But. Anyway, let's carry on.

I finish at 11 o'clock at night. I considered repeating the activities from last year (minus fainting), as I generally don't mind traipsing about on my own. The idea of wading through the crowds isn't sold to me, though, and the fireworks aren't all that, and doing things on your own is a hell of a lot less enjoyable when you're surrounded by groups having an awesome time being groupish. Not really anticipating having anyone to make my own group with, as I'm not a part of any group of friends. My lovely people tend to dissipate into their own social circles come party time.

So, what to do? Maybe catch the train out to Northcote. I imagine the crowds will be less there. Should be some bars open where I can get a drink, then take up position on the hill and watch the city from there, followed by a nice amble home. I quite like the walk from Northcote.

Or maybe just go home. Pick up a drink from the kitchen, go back to the station and watch the city from the railway overpass.

Or just go to bed, and shut the door on both the year leaving and the year arriving.

It won't matter what I do. There's nothing any of us can do to shape 2009. The world will keep spinning and life will keep unfolding regardless of ritual or superstition. Whatever happens, happens.

(But I haven't yet accepted that.)


  1. This year I'm staying in. Largely dictated by circumstance rather than choice (a late flight home). I'm doing a champagne & cheese evening with my best buddy.

    I once celebrated NYE (in Melbourne, by strange coincidence) in the middle of an empty street in the middle of a quiet suburb where we'd gone to catch a movie at some arthouse cinema -- with no cabs in sight. Midnight hit & we were standing there in the quiet, looking at the stars. I remember this dreadful emptiness when my then bf said, "Happy New Year".

    Means nothing. But has proven to be unforgettable, that moment.

  2. 23.23 is a far more superstitious number.

  3. My NYEs are typically quiet affairs. Every second year, Christmas is up in Queensland with my mum's family, and they're all in bed sometime between 9-10pm. Which usually leaves my dad and me looking at each other at midnight, waving a finger in the air and whispering "woohoo!" to one another so we don't wake everyone else.

    And when I'm not in Brisbane, much like you, all my friends disappear to different gatherings.

    I hosted one year, which was fun, but I'm not keen on the whole "jam self into crowd to see ephemeral fireworks". It's impossible to get decent photos of them in amongst so many people anyway.

    I don't suppose you caught a glimpse of any unicorns on the way down to the pavement last year...?

  4. It could be suicidal, but I'm actually thinking of going to the Toff to see MyDisco on NYE. But wouldn't it be too sad, me going by myself?

    My pals tend to disappear to cooler, hipper dos when New Year's Eve comes about. It sucks but loneliness is a large part of my world.

  5. Sounds like a pleasant evening in, Deb.

    I think it comes from the knowledge that just because, intellectually, it means nothing, doesn't make it possible to disregard the fact that it means -scads- to nearly everyone else. There's some sort of psychic resonance that I'm loosing against, which tells me I should do my best to have a good time, or I'll end up with another godawful year.

    I prefer 12:34, meself, Macrae. OH SCREW DIGITAL SUPERSTITION.

    Damn them indeed, Dave. What does New Years entail over your end of the world?

    I don't remember any unicorns, Mike. Fainting is really funny, actually. My eyes are open, and they're seeing, but -I- am not there to be seeing in the present. When I come back, I tend to already have my eyes open, and all the visuals that I'd missed out on tend to be waiting for me to 'remember', like picking up old mail. It's all there, but I don't experience in the presence. So, no unicorns.

    It's never sad to go to gigs on your own! Although I imagine NYE being slightly more emotionally charged, there's a higher chance of not being in the right frame of mind to have yerself a good time...I'd go, hell, you never know. Could be bloody awesome.

    I'm leaning towards getting the train to Northcote at this point, if only for the walk home.

  6. Yeah well, I offered my company last year, but you didn't seem terribly interested. Hope it works out better for you this time.

  7. At that was true at the time. I wasn't in the greatest frame of mind, and decided I'd be better off alone, so I could have a meltdown if necessary. Probably not the most sensible decision I've ever made. I'm sorry if that upset you.

  8. Tessa, it's a lot the same up here, it's just too cold and wet to walk home from. There's a lot of shivering at bus stops.

  9. Aw, well I hope it isn't too wet on the night. The way the weather has been recently, we might join you with the 'cold & wet' business. Melbourne won't make up her mind.