The Scene: New Year’s Eve, 1999.
I was 15 – the high water mark of my teenage angst. I wore lots of black, drew on my hands with Sharpies, wrote (exceptionally literary) vampire novels in spiral notebooks til 2 am, and nursed unnecessary suicidal thoughts and unrequited loves (Why won’t you look at me Chris Saylor, whyyyyyyy? Your Jnco’s are the widest.). You might have called me a nerd, but you wouldn’t have called me openly emotional. Irish blood courses through these steely veins, repressing all feelings until a perfect storm of alcohol and family gatherings unleashes them. This is important to remember, given the tale that follows.
That New Year’s night I was a combination of John Keats + Anne Rice – dangerous territory. While everyone else was setting off fireworks and listening to that FINALLY RELEVANT Prince song, I stared down the grim barrel of The Millennium, the history and future of the world spreading before me, knowing for the first time that everything was the worst and would only continue to go straight to hell, that God was dead, that all the computers would explode and plunge us into darkness (Y2K!!!!), that I was completely mediocre and should just roll up in a ball in the attic and die. They would find my mummified remains months later, unrecognizable because the rats ate my face off. Hibernating emotions stirred. Rising throat lump….tears brimming….my mind vice didn’t activate. I became, to put it mildly, loudly overwrought.
The next day I was puffy-eyed and embarrassed, but otherwise fine. No computer explosions, no death in the attic. Only confusion as to why I had dissolved into an unrecognizable mess for a few hours. The hysterics shamed me, and I spoke not a word of it to anyone, thrusting the experience deep into my subconscious (mind vice fully functional now), until the next December 31st…when I repeated this noisy existential crisis in a new basement, with a whole new set of sorrows with no basis in reality. Every New Year’s since has become an iteration of that first nervous breakdown, with the awful additions of jungle juice and champagne, friends having good times just begging for me to ruin them, dubious men lurking in frat houses or bars. As a result, 12:01 a.m. usually finds me doing something that warrants an apology the next day.
Fact Analogy: full moons are to werewolves as New Year’s Eve is to me. One night of the year I will disgustingly eat my feelings and inflict physical/psychological damage to anyone around me. The only option I have is to quarantine myself.
But of course I’m not doing that this year.
Still, there’s hope here, readers. Objectively, and for the first time in twelves years (Christ.), I’m better off this year than I was last. I’m employed, doing something I actually like and continue to enjoy almost a year later. I don’t need to bother with bullshit Lose That Weight! Resolutions everyone is so fond of making this time of year (Zumba? Really?). I’ve succeeded in getting my extended family to believe that my sexual expiration date is not anywhere near approaching, so it’s cool that I don’t have kids. I’m writing lots, I’m traveling all the time, I’m putting stuff back IN to boxes instead of living OUT of them. I have plans, I have prospects. I’ve got a glorious move on the horizon where there is beer, music, friends, bearded men and never ever any snow. I could break into song about how fucking rad things are right now.
But just in case, if you live in the Denver area, I urge you to stay indoors this New Year’s Eve. Your city is mine, and you can never be too careful. Play me out, boys.