Auld Lang Syne: New Years Past

Some people spend their New Year’s Eve hours in classy settings, bedecked in glad rags and expensive champagne in mind. At 11.59pm on the 31st December 2013, I was surrounded by four shirtless Austrians loudly and not at all tunefully belt out the Austrian National Anthem.

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Speaking of Austrian displays of nationalism, one of the more surreal moments of my life was a day out in Vienna in late 2011 on Austrian National Day. Innocently wandering the streets, I came across a military display of national pride – soldiers twirling their guns to the sounds of Robbie Williams’ ‘Rock DJ’. Big screens were helpfully provided to get an up-close look at their antics. Sadly for one soldier, his big screen moment was ruined by dropping his rifle mid-twirl the second the camera alighted on him. But I digress…

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I had somehow found myself without plans for New Years. Plans for an Edinburgh celebration with a Texan friend were scuppered by a new job and an unforgiving boss. My various English friends had already committed themselves to exotic countries and between juggling work, study and my internship, New Years plans hadn’t been the top of my priority list. All of a sudden it was the last week of December and for the first time in years, it appeared I would be friendless on New Years.

I’ve never been one for party hard, club hopping New Years. I prefer a beach and a bonfire, or good chats with good friends. Seeing in the New Year in Costa Rica in 2010 involved navigating the prostitute-filled streets of Jaco before welcoming midnight on a beach. January 1st 2011 saw me surrounded by old friends on a Melbourne street, ooh-ing and aah-ing over fireworks. Just to mix it up, the dawning of a new year in 2012 involved a local handyman in the rural Coromandel, while 2013 begun next to my best friend from when I was eleven years old. The constant has always been that I’ve been in company of good, life long friends, and that I’ve welcomed each New Year with people I love.

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Our incredibly secure safety lock in Costa Rica

It’s an odd thing, moving to a new country at the age of 25. My Facebook feed is full of engagements, weddings, babies. Most of my English friends are in serious, long-term relationships and the opportunities to meet new people feel increasingly shrunken in comparison to earlier overseas adventures. It’s no earth shattering observation, I am just the latest in a long line of quasi-Bridget Jones prototypes. I’m ready and willing to accept my cat lady fate, but there was something about not being surrounded by my near and dear at a minute past midnight that hit me hard.

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This isn’t related to the topic at the hand, but it IS one of my favourite photos from Costa Rica

But here is where the moral of the story comes in. While I felt sorry for myself and had already written off the beginning of 2014, I wasn’t appreciating the promise that can come with embracing imperfect situations. An old acquaintance from Texas, an Austrian ex-boyfriend of one of my closest friends, was in town – would I like to join him and his Austrian friends? Oh, I thought, I suppose this is my best bet. The prospect of spending the night with a bunch of drunk Austrian males who had expressed interest in going to a club for the night didn’t enthuse me but I put on my dress, applied my eyeliner and straightened my hair (an exercise in futility when it is raining 98.7% of the time in London, but one soldiers on.)

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My hair, about 47 seconds after leaving my house

And oh how wrong I had been. I ended up having a fantastic night, full of walks in the rain, watching fireworks on Primrose Hill, bonding over the plight of belonging to a small country by mocking Australia and Germany and having all sorts of adventures. Four strangers at the beginning of the night became fun and fantastic friends, and I started 2014 in a fantastic mood. It’s a good lesson to carry with me for the rest of 2014: you never know when something will turn out to be a fantastic night, or when your expectations will be wildly exceeded. I’m excited for 2014.