It’s New Year’s Eve and I just want to shout, “We made it!”
We made it past the awkward years where I was sixteen and my sister was ten, a seemingly cosmic age difference. We made it past not being old enough to stay up to watch the ball drop, or being old enough but hiding our beers in photos, and the days of sleeping on our friends’ couches to avoid driving.
We made it through the year my brother ignored the songs and didn’t come home for the holidays. We made it through those few years after his best friend’s death, when we thought we were losing everything and there weren’t enough candles or hymns to fill the gaps.
We made it through that year when the only Christmas song my mom and I could only listen to was “The River” by Joni Mitchell because my heart was broken and so was hers but for different reasons. That was almost a decade ago now. This year, I am not drowning my break-up sorrows in eggnog and no one is crying.
We made it through the year I was in Austria and I ran five miles on Christmas morning to kill time and feel less lonely.
We made it through two thousand and eighteen. We made it to a point where I would never say my twenties were hard because there is just so much to be thankful for. My sister who has had a hard year is happy and home and her laughter is what makes it a party. This year it’s just the five of us. And my mom is away but it’s for work but she works for a summer camp so she is happy. She’s with my dad and they are still in love.
This was the year we all wanted. When we all chose to stay in.
Around eight p.m., my brother comes home with a half-drunk bottle of coke and asks if we have any whiskey. He also asks if we have to listen to bad music all night, but he missed the cocktail hour when we made a Spotify playlist over olives on toothpicks. And anyway, we are dressing up! He agrees to put on a button-down shirt and comes down with the addition of a clip-on bowtie, plaid flannel pants and a Santa hat. We take pictures and promise not to put them on Facebook.
Then my brother invites a friend over who also had a hard year but he made it. My sister’s boyfriend cooks chicken and we drink white wine. At some point, we put on “Golden Years” and do the dance from A Knight’s Tale in the kitchen.
We’ve all been out for New Year’s Eve before. I did the going out in the city thing. I did the stand in line with the people who do coke in the bathroom (not me) and the bottle service and the too drunk friend who has to go home early and the sequined skirt that’s too tight.
It gets late and pretty soon my brother is dancing on the kitchen stools to the songs he was making fun of earlier. We make mozzarella sticks and pigs in a blanket and I’m the oldest and should be the one to turn the oven off but it’s my sister who ends up doing it. My husband and my brother line dance to a song we danced to at our wedding. We run downstairs for the countdown and we almost forget to pop the champagne but we make it.
We all made it and the next morning my brother goes to the deli and buys everyone bagels and I don’t have the words to explain how meaningful that is. All I have is love and gratitude.
Caroline (Higgins) Nyczak (’11) lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends the vast majority of her time teaching English Language Arts. You may also find her at barre exercise classes or playing (and losing) at bar trivia. She continues to be inspired by the energy and diversity of New York City and the beauty of that certain slant of light.