“What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?” said the owner of C.J. Rose as I browsed through the latest fashions in her boutique. “This dress would look fabulous on you!” she said enthusiastically as she pointed to a sparkly, black gown. “It’s gorgeous,” I said, “but I’m just staying home on New Year’s Eve.” As I continued shopping in downtown Laguna looking for post-Christmas sales, store clerks cheerfully promoted the party dresses and inquired about my New Year’s Eve plans. I confidently responded with, “No big plans; just staying home this year,” and with each response, I reflected on past New Year’s Eves when I felt that I had to spend that highly celebrated evening at a party, or be with a special someone. Being alone was unacceptable—how dreary would that be? On the rare occasion when there was not a party or date, then I would respond to the New Year’s Eve plans inquiry with big smile and a little white lie: “I’m having friend over,” which was much more suitable than stating the truthful alternative.
My perception radically changed on New Year’s Eve, year 1999 when I was forced to do the unspeakable: stay home alone. I had plans to attend a swanky New Year’s Eve party to celebrate the momentous Millennium with my boyfriend, until he dumped me that New Year’s Eve afternoon in a voicemail message. After hearing his cowardly words, I sat paralyzed from rage for several minutes. As I realized his true character, I was glad that he was out of my life. Then a bigger problem loomed: I had been stranded alone and with no plans on New Year’s Eve—for the Millennium celebration at that.
Once I calmed down and organized my thoughts, I implemented a plan to insure that I would have a festive New Year’s Eve. I left the office and hit Trader Joe’s where I bought some champagne, and the makings for a delectable dinner and dessert. My next stop; the video store for a couple of comedies, and voila; I had plans!
I enjoyed great food, champagne and a movie. I joined Dick Clark and the million or so party-goers in Times Square via television for the count down leading to year 2000. Moments after midnight, I walked down to the beach in front of my apartment and heard hoots and hollers from near-by homes. Off in the distance I saw fireworks and faintly heard neighbors singing “Auld Lang Syne”. I could feel the energy and the excitement of the neighborhood and realized that I was a part of the Millennium Celebration without a boyfriend and a swanky party—and that a party could consist of just me!
We are often enlightened through circumstance. A break-up on New Year’s Eve caused me to see that celebration is a state-of-mind, and that celebrations can come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing to celebrate is the key.
Pamela Knudsen lives in Laguna Beach and enjoys writing.