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December 31st, 2002

Sleeping Through the Party

A Different Way to Spend New Year's Eve

 
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I lifted my head off the pillow: The clock read 12:27 AM. I pumped one fist in the air: Yes! I had done it. I had?avoided New Year’s Eve.

This, then, was rock bottom. It was even worse than New Year’s Eve 1997. That was four days after a tonsillectomy. I had cradled my throbbing ears (your ears do hurt after a tonsillectomy?as I discovered, the difficult way, it’s all connected up there), begging God for the approach of midnight. Not that I could barely wait to usher in a brand new year, but four hours had passed since my last codeine dose, and it was time for a beautiful new pill.

A new strategy
This time I arrived at rock bottom courtesy of a very serious ex, who had very seriously dumped me. New Year’s had been a special night for us, and rather than marking the occasion by sitting and sulking, or kicking around town to Show Him Up, I chose an entirely new direction: I would be unconscious.

It was a first for me, this purposeful avoidance of an historic occasion. You are reading the words of a person who attended the 2001 Presidential inauguration and took pictures of the swearing-in ceremony?as it took place on a big-screen TV. To mindfully miss the turning of the new year was fairly huge stuff. But so was the pain. So I slept. I hid.

The Alf years
Somewhere in my parents’ basement there exists a photograph of a very young me, wearing legwarmer pajamas (don’t ask; this was approximately 1987 and I am not responsible for my actions?no one was responsible for their actions in 1987). I am reclining against my ALF doll (again?1987) wearing a party hat and holding one of those obnoxious party horns. This, I thought, was how one partied.

Irrational fear and New Year’s
Although I’m old enough to recline against other, more interesting dates, I haven’t quite shaken the fear that the way I spend December 31st will mark me for the entire year. It’s not the case, fortunately, or I would have passed all of 1997 feeding on Popsicles and trading kidneys for Tylenol 3. But I’ve now, unfortunately, been infused with an adult sense of If-I’m-not-doing-something-cool-on-New-Year’s-Eve-all-is-lost and that awful fear that was so well voiced on Friends: “You have to have someone to kiss when the ball comes down!”

I haven’t quite shaken any of that, but I do know one thing. That rock-bottom New Year’s Eve was almost a year ago. In the interim I’ve moved to Florida in a flurry of Dave Barry books and prayers, kicked a few asses, written my first rent check, bobbed in the ocean, and experienced some damn fine wines.

Doesn’t sound like I’ve been asleep at all.

 
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The Author : Mary Beth Ellis
Mary Beth Ellis writes from Orlando, Florida.
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