It’s a New Year, though I don’t know much about that. Things happen too quickly nowadays. One moment it’s one year and I’m sipping on a warm beer with a laugh bubbling in my throat; the next, poof – gone just like that. As soon as it came, the year went, and everything goes black. There’s a deep voice I can’t recognize counting down. Unknown lips tickle their way to mine. Someone whispers in my ear. And then when the scattershot of a voice reaches its peak, I find myself with my pants below my waste, a belt buckle made of liquid, and I’m bobbing for my own regurgitated apples.
I’m not blaming inebriation or anything like that for my annual confusion. To do so would be unnatural; we humans produce our own alcoholic by-product. It is innate within us, synthesized like a hot lover caught gasping for oxygen in between kisses. Hell: drinking is part of us as much as breathing. In fact cellular respiration dictates it is one and the same.
My bewilderment is not for the night lost but instead for the nights before the last that have no reason to be forgotten, those moments that were spent melting in my bed with a book or a journal or just staring up at my ceiling, wondering, thinking, and trying to convince myself to get out of my cushioned prison just this one time because then there’s a chance for a better tomorrow. I think back to the year of opportunities glazed over, all the regrets I convince myself I do not have, and the things I would have done differently if I could only go back.
I imagine it. I start from the beginning – Jaunary 1st 2013, and once there, I see a boy dressed up as a man wallowing about the year past very similar to how I am now. I want to shake him, kiss him, love him, and tell him that it’ll be okay because I am. I want to get him out of bed and shave, shower, and work, work, work. I want him to eat healthy. I want him to try in all aspects of his life. I want him to sweat the small stuff because those are the things he’ll forget and never prepare for. I want him to want to do this all.
If I get his attention, I’ll smile. I’m sure he’ll look at me with a mirrored grin because don’t I look silly with my beard and my tilted glasses and my current hangover. To him, I’ll look the same yet unimaginably different and that’ll scare him. He’ll think to himself: I know this person, but where did I meet him?
With a smile all disheveled and lost, I’ll scribble on the blue walls with yellow crayon, “I was happy here.” The letters would be obtrusive and unsightly, looking at them too long would hurt one’s eyes. They’d invade the room. Anyone who would walk in would see them and think about how the sentence was too clunky, how poorly designed the individual characters were, and how grotesque the colour was – it’d bleed into the light blue like the Sun swallowing the Earth.
And he’ll still be in bed but he’ll recognize the writing and he’ll look back at me with his head rested on a pillow and he’ll wonder if this was all there would be – a recovering drunk with a rat nest for facial hair, a random assortment of pajamas pretending to be casual wear, and a carnal stench of sweat and lack of hygiene that brought one back to the Paleolithic age.
“I have resolutions, you know.” He’ll say.
“I know,” I’ll answer.
“I don’t want to turn out like you.” He’ll add.
“I know,” I’ll reply.
“I just need to try and try and try again. That’s it. Everything will follow. Life will happen.”
“I hate you.”
“You’re the worst in me.”
“Life happened, like you said.”
“Not like this,” he’ll point to me.
“I know.” I’ll repeat.
I’ll then think and wonder about the 2013 regrets. Were there really that many? I’d fiddle with my hands as though I’m trying to count them all. In his bed, he’ll recede back into the comfort of the covers.
I’ll stop at three, then I’ll point back to him in the bed and say, “Not like this either.” He’ll look flustered and angry as if I don’t understand him because it was a long night and he’s tired and he needs his sleep and that’s all this is – just a little sleep – and he’ll get up in a second or two or three or whenever he’s not exhausted.
But he’ll shuffle in his dismay. A cough will disrupt his nest. Cold will tickle his toes. He’ll feel how it breathes on him – softly, gently, patiently – and in a brief moment of satisfaction, he’ll convince himself he likes it. So he’ll stick out his whole foot, then his leg, then his hip, then his left side, then his body, and as the world would be spinning and the universe would be spreading like jelly on bread, he’d be out of the covers and into the cold. His exhalation would show evidence of his life. From invisible to gray, he’ll understand the pain of being alive is not in sitting and doing nothing, but instead in doing anything but sitting.
And he’ll be happy there with the chilling air biting his naked body.
Then the year will roll on and there will be academic tribulations, grades cascading, extracirculars fumbled, loads of kisses, empty words of support, excuses, apologies, excuses again, burned cookies, a surprise birthday party, drinking alone, drinking with others, drinking with others but feeling alone, month after month after month of love, letters, Poland, expulsion, laughing, crying, laughing until tears, MCAT, applications, third year sobering realizations, fourth year drunken realizations, apathy, busy, busy, busy, writing, jealousy, thesis, more applications, early Christmas, a New Year at a Chinese restaurant that had the makings of a Haruki Murakami horror, and then at the end of it all, when his pants are pulled back up and the belt fastens around his waste and the apples are settling in his stomach, he’ll find himself writing a blog post at three in the morning, trying to convince himself that not all the year was a waste. Heck. He wrote this post after all.
And that made him happy here, and here, and here too.