For the second time since I was 11 years old, I did not stay awake to see the old year out.
My only other missing of the countdown was 7 years ago, when my flu turned to bronchitis turned to pneumonia. I canceled the party and went back to bed.
I still remember my first New Year’s countdown. Our parents were at a dance and my younger sister and I were giddy with being alone and staying up so late. At midnight we went out on the front porch, banged pots and shouted, “Happy New Year!!” I also remember our mother angrily asking the next day, what had we done to the pots? Apparently Wear-Ever aluminum is indestructible, unless you bang it with its own lid!
The next year I was babysitting and conscientiously staying awake. I listened to the radio countdown of the top songs of the year, writing down the titles as well as my resolutions for the coming year, starting what would be my default NYE tradition if there wasn’t a party.
But oh my, were there parties! Both ones out and ones I hosted. I created events, and later negotiated with good friends on who would host that year. Would it be a scotch tasting at Crosbie’s, an adult dance party, or a families event with the almost grown children?
Whatever the choice, it was always spectacular.
This year, we decided not to go out. I’d learned years ago that on special dates the service would be slow, the food much less than what was advertised, and it would be almost impossible to get a taxi afterwards. But we were new to town, and not invited to parties. So, planning to stay at home, I also threw the invite out to everyone I knew here in Barbados. If you’ve not got anything planned, or are on your way to something else, feel fee to drop by and have a drink to celebrate the season.
If no one had replied, I would have been fine, I think. But two people said they were coming for sure. I giddily put another bottle of Prosecco in the fridge, and sliced the smoked marlin sandwiches into appetizer sized pieces.
And then Barbados brought in curfew, and everybody cancelled. I ate some sandwiches, drank some Prosecco, and went to bed at 10:30.
The next day started beautifully, with an ocean swim before coffee. But I was sad, so sad. I didn’t walk in to town with Scott. I lay on the lounger and didn’t read my book.
Then someone playing football across the field shouted something, and for an instant I was sure it was my ex, yelling my nickname— “Hey Blondie!” The tears started to flow.
Grief is a funny thing. Over two years later and it still catches me off guard, knocks me over. I was flooded with memories of Don and me, getting ready for parties at our house.
He was never enthused when I suggested a big event, and often tried to talk me out of it. But once it was on he would help get ready, cleaning the house, making runs to the store, distributing invites to his work friends. He threw himself into enjoying the actual event, and basked in the accolades that came after. He was my partner and we worked so well as a team.
I miss those parties. I thought I said my goodbyes to them with the last few events in my almost-sold house, hosted solo. There was the warm houseful at the last Christmas; the Middle Eastern cooking party where I shared recipes I’d collected on my first brave travels, as well as a few bottles of wine, with ten of my closest female friends; and of course the goodbye to the house after everything was packed, with pizza and reminiscing with the children who had grown up in it, both mine and those of my sisters and close friends. Twenty-somethings are not only good at moving boxes, but also at making sure there is no liquor in the house left to pack!
I had images of elegant cocktail parties in my condo in the city, but Covid came along before I had developed a new social circle.
And I think the core of what I miss is my community. Being in the middle of friends, family and acquaintances, knowing I had created the surroundings for them to be having so much fun— that’s what’s hard to let go of. Yet I know that if I was “home” it would not be the same. And so I say goodbye again to the life I thought would never change.
I will make a new community here in Barbados, in this New Year. I have already begun, and I’m reminded that I have done this many times before, with each of the many moves in my life.
New Year, new home, new love. Welcome, 2021.