The crowd pulsed around me and I felt the chant.
“Ten! Nine! Eight!”
I clung to the Prosecco bottle and my glass, careful to spill not one drop.
“Seven! Six! Five!”
Tina’s little idea for me to be her date for the night had panned out well enough. I’d curled my hair into beachy waves, stuffed myself into a dress which had to eventually be swapped out, and gone out with low expectations.
“Four! Three! Two!”
Her two friends, a couple, bounced next to us, their glasses held high among all the other gold, silver and bronze liquids sloshing in the air. I hadn’t talked to anyone but these three all night long. Except for the stranger who bought me a bottle of Prosecco, whoever that was. Thanks, dude.
And then the big climax.
The room exploded with little horns and cheers and the band banged on their instruments as kisses rippled through the room from strangers and friends.
We left shortly after — having drained 4 bottles of bubbles — and walked happily, loudly home in the dark. I like to think cars honked cheerily at us as we meandered home, but I doubt any driver would be trying to attract attention past midnight on New Year’s Eve. But the mood was jovial, full, warm.
I awoke at 7 in Tina’s sister’s bed alone, but for Tina’s sister’s cat, Pierre. I was fully dressed and the Spanx which cut into my thighs were my wake up call.
On the drive home I thought about the last several of my New Year’s Eves. I was married on New Year’s Eve exactly eleven years ago. We threw an epic party that my friends and I still talk about fondly. We’d chosen that night because of the disaster which New Year’s seems to always become and now we wouldn’t have to ever worry about it again! Ha. Oh, naive, Hy!
The first New Year’s alone was spent with my very closest friends. The Neighbor was not yet in my life, though he must have been nearby celebrating. The next I’d invited him to come over while I stayed with Peyton, but he went to a party instead. The next we shroomed together, the following we went to dinner and I discovered more hurt and betrayal, and the last one together we spent like rags drying on a line: dismal and limp with my friends. He’d break up with me 3 weeks later.
The next, alone and completely heartbroken still, I spent with Ashley. She and I had played softball with TN and she knew him well. Saw his struggle, mine. Our love, our colossal collapse. But it was dark and singular and sparklers still make me nervous from growing up in a drought state and I couldn’t enjoy their hissing, spinning, maniacal screams into the treetops.
This year was different, though. Although alone, completely and totally, I was surrounded with energy and a wild abandonment. There was no sorrow like the first. No longing and yearning and disappointment like with TN. No settling for plans. Just a decision to enjoy myself.
I spoke to no one — except the generous stranger — and didn’t want to. My goal was to feel alive, to feel full, to feel beautiful and strong.
This year, I have decided, I am going to attempt to achieve something I have never tried to do before: to find love. And not to stumble upon it, to luck out in finding it, but to actively and intentionally seek it out.
I will follow the trails of some men I’ve met under the “old regime” to their ends, but in the meantime I have hit pause on my AFF* profile — as well as my other pursuits — and reopened OKCupid in order to achieve a better platform for real conversation.
As of January 1st there are no less than 5 men who have wowed me with their words, good looks, and yes – desires for a long-term relationship. The amount of effort required in culling the herd of potential boyfriends is vastly greater than that needed to find a fun roll in the hay and I am already completely exhausted. Coyness is seen as a brush off; I must actually respond in kind!
But, I’m also determined to change my life.
I’ve long been afraid to let myself do something like this, to set goals. Fear of failure, frustration and the overruling feeling that it’s futile have all kept me away, but at 41, I can no longer say my current methods work all that well. I have been plagued by mostly mediocre sex all year long and I realize that more emotional effort is required to get things right.
I’m not going to “Just enjoy myself until I find something more serious.” I’m going to look for the serious… and hopefully also enjoy myself. I might not even kiss on the first date. (Go ahead and scoff. I just did.)
Happy New Year, Internet Boyfriend!
Here’s to a year of love. We all need a little.