After much debate and rearranging of plans, it was finally decided last week that Wayne, our friend Eugene, and I would be spending our New Year weekend on Koh Lanta. We leave this afternoon after school (you may recall it’s a quick 2-hour motorbike ride away!) and there’s a good chance I won’t be back online before 2012 is in full swing so I guess I must do the requisite New Year’s post now. No, it won’t be a full recap of the year (I pretty well accomplished that with my birthday post), but just a few short (maybe?) words for… closure I suppose.
When trying to convince Henk to saddle up and join us on the Lanta adventure he scrunched up his face and said something to the effect of, “Ughhh, I don’t see what’s the big deal. It’s just another year.” And how true, good sir! In the same way that, at least for many Americans, any birthdays following the big 2-1 become a bit less significant (I know there are some of you out there crying, “At 25 your car insurance drops!” or something silly like that but I think we all know that’s not a truly significant milestone?) it is easy to say, especially as we grow older, that perhaps all the hullabaloo pertaining to the New Year is a bit superfluous. It’s true, we all know that on the first morning of the new year we’ll all wake up to a world unchanged, and in fact, unchanged ourselves (aside from a pounding headache that may or may not have been present for our last memories of the Old Year). We know the resolutions will probably go unkept– exercise regimes and diets will last maybe two weeks, nails will continue to be bitten, profanities will continue to flow– and that world peace will not be attained. (I mean, call me a cynic, but it’s just not looking good.)
Sure, there’s nothing inherently special about changing that somewhat-arbitrary last number in the year. Well, I take that back, the Thai calendar will roll over to 2555, which I guess is a little special, as 5 is pronounced “ha” in Thai, making the year “song ha ha ha!”, which draws giggles from the students and their easily-amused farang teacher. For me, each New Year celebration becomes special because it’s one of the few times of year where I can be sure to be able to retrace exactly where I was and whom I was with for many years previous, and in doing so map a sort of personal progress and development. It’s a reminder that every moment in our entire lives, no matter how detached and unrelated, has led up to the present; and that no matter what moments of struggle and misfortune might have interspersed the times of celebration, the important thing is that we still make it a point to find reasons to celebrate, and to simply be happy with the ones we love.
Last year I was alone in a stranger’s house with two high school best friends I hadn’t seen in over a year, after a failed attempt to beat DC New Year’s traffic from work to an allegedly unworthy club (for which I’d already purchased a ticket, but as my mom always says, “Easy come, easy go.”). The year before I was with a friend I’ve had since I was 11 in the midst of a mob in Shanghai’s most famous shopping district, kissing some guy who would become my boyfriend for the first time at midnight. Fourth year at university– sharing an illegal, but management-approved, champagne toast with all my customers and dear coworkers at Siips; a comma in what was a surprisingly enjoyable and lucrative shift at work. Before that I was in another stranger’s house thanks to a generous invitation from my college roommate to my newly heartbroken, returned-from-Rome self. Before that? In a house so crowded I was forced to sleep in the back of a car and woke up so stiff and exhausted I called out of my New Year’s morning shift… and lost my job. And, one more for good measure, the end of 2005 found me in a borrowed dress in a house of what felt like North Carolina royalty, with the girl I can easily say is my oldest friend, learning the hard way that a six-pack of Smirnoff ice contains way too much sugar to be able to hide one’s hangover from one’s mother the next morning.
This year I’ll be on a Thai island, (hopefully) having just finished my seventh and eight scuba dives, with the guy with whom I shared my flask– and then thrust myself upon– two years ago and a new friend I feel lucky to have. It all makes me realize that I can honestly make no predictions as to my whereabouts or companions next year, but I’m genuinely excited for the journey that takes me there and everyone who becomes a part of it. (And though I said all that stuff about resolutions I am going to make an effort to be more disciplined with my Thai-learning, and to put my Christmas-present yoga mat to work after months of flab-cultivating.) Yep, I’m ready for 2012, or “Song Ha Ha Ha!“, or however you care to classify the next 365 days.
And since I hate media-less posts, here’s the final scene of a very, very good movie. How I suppose everyone secretly would like one New Year’s Eve to culminate:
Oh, and as promised, 4 minutes of Ollie playing with Christmas presents. And yes, I say, “Squirrel” at one point in the video, but for you observant types you’re right, it is a fox.