A women recounts last year, with no hope for the new year.
|As he softly whispered Happy New Year into my ear, I thought about this time last year. It would be simple to say we were youthful, naive dreamers. But we were both on the cusp of 50 and had gathered too much wisdom to take that easy way out. Our illusions of immortality and our blatant ignorance of the fragile are all we can blame.|
I wanted to say it back; to wish him a Happy New Year. But I couldn't. I couldn't even have that simple pleasure. He had to see it in my eyes. How could he not? It was the realization that those were just words and we both knew that this year would not be happy regardless of the good wishes and high hopes. No amount of prayer or positive energy could change our predicament or alter the inevitable.
Last year we wanted to celebrate in style, which meant an incredibly decadent party, complete with hip band, gigantic flower arrangements, catered delicacies with flowing champagne, and all of our friends. This is the year we did it – well he did – we became successful. Of course, success can be defined in an infinite number of ways, but we defined it traditionally as financial success. We made it and it was time for all our friends to acknowledge it.
Today I cannot imagine why we were so insecure and competitive that we had to flaunt it. We had both grown up humbly with caring parents and happy childhoods. When did we join the insufferable race against the Jones and why did we feel that it was the most important race we could run? We told ourselves that wealth made us “winners” but that was a definition we had no idea how to write.
We booked the top floor of that swanky hotel downtown, the one with the revolving bar and ceiling to floor windows. He insisted on taking the Mazerati – wanted to park it in front. It was his Christmas gift and everyone needed to experience this additional badge of his success. I wore a beaded, extremely fitted, Versace gown and he debuted his new Armani tuxedo. We were beautiful, if only in our own addled minds. Our guests arrived looking nothing less than spectacular, with jewels and smiles. We were all part of this insane ritual of smiles on one side, sneers and jealousy on the other. The music is loud, with heavy bass. It beats through your chest and makes you move as if suspended. The lights are the final touch. Tables are glowing with soft candlelight while the dance floor is illuminated by strobe lights, neon lasers and colored flashes.
I will not remember what he is wearing tonight. I, however, will never forget the blue gown with back ties, that surround my small frame. There are no friends, fake or real, next to us. Smiles are a thing of the past. The music here is a series of dull beeps and the lights are dim.
The party was everything we anticipated. At the stroke of midnight we kissed and wished our superficial dreams for the upcoming year: vacation home in Milan, remodeled kitchen to match that one we recently saw in Architectural Digest. We wished for more, more and more.
Tonight I have no New Year’s wishes or resolution because I have not hope. If I did, I would wish for a second chance. It is probably better to have no hope than to hope for the impossible.
At 3 am, it was time to go. We laughed and kissed all the way to the valet. He reliving the envy in his “friend’s” eyes and me commenting on the latest set of botox faces. We were having the time of our life. When the valet handed him the keys, he dropped them and slipped picking them up. Did I even think to mention his intoxicated state before we got into the car? Why would I? Nothing bad could happen to us. We were invincible. We had made it.
The crash was no more remarkable than any other accident you read about in the news or watch on TV. That beautiful car was wrapped around a tree, or so I was told. I don’t remember much. The first few months of this year I was unconscious. He spent the night in jail and the next few months either talking to doctors or lawyers. The sentence was unusually light, probably because the judge felt my condition was punishment enough for him.
This new year I will die and it will kill him (me physically and he metaphorically) There is no doubt in my mind. The machines are having a greater difficulty keeping me around. I’ve had plenty of time to think about our delusions of happiness and to define success. But really there is no reason to even try. Redemption has eluded us and Happy New Year is meant for someone else.