There was the year we got lost on the way to the party and spent a freezing cold night in a field. There was the year I got dumped by my boyfriend over the phone just as I was getting ready to go out with him. Then there was the year that one of our friends had committed suicide just a month after another friend had been killed by a car at the end of his driveway; none of us felt like partying that year, but we got together nevertheless, watched a film or two. James, the kid who’d been killed, was a boy I’d started to neck on with after months of being ‘just mates’. As we’d snogged in the twilight of our teenage years, we didn’t know where it would lead. We both had high hopes – the snogging, like our friendship, was lovely. As it turned out, it didn’t lead anywhere. His funeral was attended by so many people that crowds were gathered outside.
Talking of funerals, don’t have a loved one die close to Christmas. Everything shuts and they get put on ice (or whatever they do to them). Then there’s the backlog to clear once everything reopens in the New Year. Dad died two days before Christmas, but we couldn’t bury him till well into January. Waiting waiting waiting – not being able to say goodbye – suspended in grief for an unnaturally long time.
Then there have been the ‘normal’ years of New Year’s hell: when I’ve waited an hour for a drink at a city bar, or been sexually molested on the dance floor, or walked home in high heels in frost because we couldn’t get a taxi, or ended up too drunk and over-emotional (while dressed as a cosmic hippy chick one year), and having a blazing row with my husband. One exception was seeing in the new Millennium on the banks of the river Thames – that was something else.
Somewhere in my early thirties, I gave up on New Year’s Eve. A quiet celebration at home suits me. Or even better, in bed asleep.
Last year, I was Skyping with an old friend in London. Midnight for me was noon for him, and he raised his mug of Yorkshire tea in my honour. That’s about as sociable as I get on New Year’s Eve nowadays.
There is one thing I like to do if I’m still awake: meditate. I like meditation, and try to be disciplined about doing it. But I really like it at the turn of a new year. I’ll do it later maybe.
A witchy pal introduced me to this technique a long time ago. He used to talk me through it. It involves visualising that I’m leaving my body and journeying to a pasture where a tumulus stands. It’s a kind of burial mound and an excuse to enter and walk deep into the earth, going deeper into a meditative or hypnotic state as you do. Once into the meditation, it’s a way of exploring my life: what to keep or grow, or what to get rid of in the New Year. It’s a powerful technique and when I’ve managed to do it without falling asleep, my subconscious has given up secrets that I don’t think I would have found otherwise. You know, those secrets you keep from yourself about yourself.
You may think I’m totally bonkers. Well, maybe I am, but – ah, fuck it! It works for me.
2013 has been a big year for me, and has left me more healed and happy than I’ve ever been. But only just. Unless something terrible happens, 2014 can only see me continue all the hard work that I’ve done this year: the work on my growth as a healthy and loving human being, as well as the work I’ve done as a writer, with the collection of short stories I’ve produced.
2014 is also the year I do an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML, at Victoria University. The day I received the email telling me that I’d been accepted onto this prestigious and heavily applied for course was one of the best of my life. This course is going to be life changing for me, I know it is. It’s really going to cement my identity as ‘writer’ in my self and give me back the girl I used to be – the confident, spontaneous, creative girl before all those years took her away from me. She’s still there somewhere, lurking behind ‘mother’, ‘middle-aged’, ‘responsibility’, ‘migrant’.
Yes, this is definitely a night to do that meditation.
So – Happy New Year! I hope you have a wonderful time whatever you do, and a wonderful year to follow. Thank you for reading my blog. I’m off to bed to meditate and ‘find myself’, but I’ll probably fall asleep.