I don’t have a lot of special New Year’s memories, mostly because New Year’s is a bullshit holiday that exists for entirely arbitrary reasons that owe, I suspect, to the desire for everyone to have some more time off around Christmas by hook or by crook.
That’s not to say that I don’t “believe” in New Year’s as a concept — it sure is the start of another calendar year, I know that to be true — or that I’m not entirely susceptible to the idea that there’s something special, even magical, about the idea that a new year can mean a do-over, or at least the chance for a fresh start. (Really, though: who would have a problem with that? Who doesn’t want to start again and do better?)
Nevertheless, when I think of New Year’s, I find myself remembering one New Year’s Day from when I was a young kid — young enough that the fact that I was awake early on January 1, and no-one else was up yet aside from my mother, almost disturbing in how unusual it was. Normally, the house was filled with people and noise in the morning, and things were unsettling in how quiet they were, everyone else having stayed up until midnight the night before, if not later.
With the house, essentially, to myself, I did what any kid would do: I put on the television and watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was inexplicably playing at the time. It wasn’t the first time I’d watched it, and I knew by this point that it was boring and slow and not what any movie with the word “space” in the title should be, but there wasn’t anything else worth watching, so I switched it on, anyway.
It had already reached the point with all the psychedelic colors and stargates and oh boy were these guys on something, and I can remember sitting there, watching it and thinking to myself that it was too bright and sunny outside for that time of year. All of a sudden, it felt as if something strange and unexpected was happening, as if the weirdness onscreen had somehow crossed over and altered reality.
I sat there, feeling as if something had changed in some significant and indescribable sense, and I remember feeling very clearly that this was what the start of a new year should feel like.
Here’s to a year that feels like that, only less disturbing.