Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Eve 2008

I'm sitting here at home on New Year's Eve, alone, drinking a glass of port. I don't like champagne and I don't like spumante. In fact, I don't even like white wine. I only like reds: Bardolino, Chianti, or Primitivo. To ring in the New Year I bought a bottle of port. I first tasted port in Portugal and was immediately hooked. Red wine, sweet yet tangy, quick buzz, loved it. But every time I order a glass whoever I’m out with always has something to say about it. I remember when I first started drinking it in '86 my then boyfriend would try and offer me ten other drinks before giving in and getting me my glass of port. When I told P that I bought port for New Year's Eve he said "Port? Didn't you want anything else?" No, I didn't, thank you though. I bought it just for me and was very happy that nobody was around to judge me about it. Not that it would have mattered...

I think it was Alberto Tomba who once declared "It's not easy being me". I think everybody can say the same thing, I know I think it a lot. I'm not complaining, I'm very good about rolling with the punches, But sometimes I think it, in a passive sort of way. It's not easy around the holidays with two children that are 10 years apart in age and not only have completely different interests but also different family situations and plans for the month of december. O is at that age where she wants to be around her friends more than she does her family so instead of staying with her father for 2 weeks she wanted to come home right away. I didn't blame her, but then we were at P's family's house 500 miles away. On the other hand I wanted P to be able to spend time with his family along with Evan. The only solution I could come up with was for me to take a train back to Modena on the 29th, stay here with her until the 3rd, go back down to Puglia by train for P's birthday and then drive back home with P and Evan in tow. I knew this meant that I would be spending the New Year alone since Olly would want to go out with friends, rightly so. That was okay with me. I’ve never been a big one on New Year’s as far back as I can remember.

I have a very good memory, sort of photographic like. I can make whole movies or see scenes from forty years back, but it’s all very selective. I can only remember three or four New Year's scenes and only one of them is from my childhood. The rest are blurs and fragments of trying to have fun, knowing that I wasn't really going to and trying to understand what was wrong with me that I wasn’t dancing and laughing like everybody else. Part of it I’m pretty sure has to do with my Father’s alcoholism. He was an alcoholic for the entire time that I lived with him, my first 16 years. We are all very grateful that he is now recovered, riding around the U.S. at 77 on a Harley Davidson, and has been sober for 21 years now. I do remember watching my peers getting drunk on the 31st and wondering where the thrill was. I’d get high but not drunk because it gave me this illusion that I still had control over a situation. Right. Anyway, many of my adolescent New Years Eves were spent with Johnny Carson. As an adult I wavered between all out parties and intimate dinners for two. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I was going to be alone. Completely and alone by myself.

Olly had been invited to go to a house in the mountains above Modena where one of her classmates father had given them the keys to the family ski cabin. I felt it was safer for her to be in a self contained environment rather than out and about so agreed to the arrangement. We left our house for the drive up right after lunch. It's not a far drive, maybe forty miles, but it's a road full of curves and twists and hairpin turns. It also happens to be a road I know part of because I bike it in the warm weather. As we went further up I could see why I’ve never biked the whole thing, it was straight up, up, up for like thirty miles. Maybe it can be my springtime challenge! When we got the the main piazza I looked around and smiled. It looked like one in ten fathers had handed over the holiday cabin keys since the town was filled with kids between the ages of 15 and 19. I kissed my daughter for the New Year and returned back to town. On my way back I found a wider road to travel on and found a few groups of bikers. You'd really have to be really into biking 'cause it was like 28° f out. I'll wait until march, thanks.

I spent the last six hours of the year doing whatever I felt like at the moment. First, I went to the shopping center to get P a new bathing suit for his birthday with the hope that he'll come to the pool with me sometimes. While I was there I scored a new triathlon bathing suit (with padded biking shorts) for only 15,00 euro. I bought my port. I watched people running around filling their carts with expensive food and drink and wondered where the huge financial crisis was. I went to the movies and saw a total chickflick (is that one word or two separate words?) with Richard Gere and Diane Lane. I wasn't too thrilled about the storyline but Richard Gere looks great at 60, hot even. I went home and did little nothings around the house. I watched my favourite Law and Order and ate vegetable soup (I'd gotten the flu coming up. I won't go into the gory details but it involves a lot of involuntary emptying of the stomach several times in one day followed by not wanting to eat anything accept, well, a glass of port. Which isn’t really eating…). All the friends that count called me and at midnight I was on the phone with P and Evan, virtually toasting in the New Year.

I went to bed at about one o’clock but then just a few hours later I woke up. It was only 5.30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. At a quarter to six I finally gave up, put on my robe and opened the windows. It had been snowing for several hours and there was a thick layer of snow everywhere. It made me feel peaceful and good.

I feel in balance and steady even with volatile situations swirling around me right now. Bring on 2009.


anji said...

Happy New Year Julia!

Sounds like it was perfect... almost, except for that flu-thing :)

stronger said...

It's good to spend some new years alone and it sounds like this was one O might remember for a long time- how her mom let her be with her friends. Happy New Year and thank you for your friendship.