The new year is a time for fresh starts — for setting intentions, manifesting goals, and envisioning what a true "New year, new you!" might actually look like. So, drinking a little too much Champagne at a NYE party and sloppily locking lips with your high school boyfriend in front of all the people you took chemistry class with might not exactly fit the bill. But you know me — I don't follow rules, I make my own! So yes, I once kissed my ex on New Year's Eve in front of everyone and their mother, but guess what? I actually have zero regrets! Confused, but amused? Allow me to explain.
It was my freshman year of college, and I was back in my hometown of New York City for two weeks of winter break. At the time I was fostering a slightly unhealthy crush on a friend from college, one that I'd later go on to casually date. Between him, lingering feelings for a coworker, and a bunch of random hookups, my high school boyfriend had barely crossed my mind. But when an old acquaintance invited me to her New Year's Eve soiree, I couldn't help but wonder: Would he be in attendance?
My high school boyfriend and I never really verbally communicated about our ending relationship, but I can't help but feel like we never really defined it in the first place. We were together for about a year and a half, on-and-off. Young, curious, and embarrassingly horny, it sometimes felt as if we were using each other to discover our sexuality; we never really took the time to get to know each other on a personal level. For the most part, I was OK with this: It felt mutually assured. But at times, I can recall feeling empty and craving emotional intimacy that peered past the sexual relationship we had developed. This complicated the way in which I viewed him after graduating: On one hand, I felt no animosity towards him — I understood the essence of what we meant to each other at the time. But on the other hand, our breakup felt reflect of what we were as a couple: fragmented, and incomplete. I pondered what would have happened had we given ourselves more of a chance, not as a "him and I," but rather, as a "we."
The night of felt like an absolute blur. I had gotten dressed at my family home with two of my best friends from high school. Scantily clad in one of my roommate's most skintight dresses and drowning in glitter-everything, I can recall feeling confident and seductive. But of course, seeing so many people that you went to high school with at once can be completely overwhelming — much too much stimuli! That anxiety sort of flooded my nervous system, and encouraged me to drink a little bit more bubbly than I had anticipated.
We first attended a dinner party for all of my high school friends, thrown at one of their apartments. The night was full of anticipation, and conversely, nostalgia. We both reminisced about some of the hilariously unfortunate situations we would get ourselves into back in the day, while swapping stories about college. I went to the same school for 13 years, from kindergarten through senior year, so being with people who knew me almost too well put my butterflies at ease. I was ready to take on the night.
The first thing I noted upon arriving at the party was how many faces in the crowd were familiar to me... through Facebook-stalking. Our hostess was a mini socialite: She knew all of New York inexplicably well and had fantastic way of bringing different branches of people together under the same roof. I was having a blast, both making new friends and staying closely guarded by the old. I was striking up a conversation in the corner of the room when I noticed my ex slip in through the front door with a group of friends. We locked eyes, and I smiled. It felt weird — like seeing an old picture of yourself and remembering what it was like to be that girl, even though you feel worlds away from her now.
I waited until we were back-to-back, before turning around and exchanging pleasantries. We hugged and did the whole, "How's school?" thing. I made a joke or two (as I tend to do when I get nervous), but I can't remember if they landed or not. What I can recall is the twinkle in his eye. It caught my own gaze, and I could sense that we had unfinished business. We continued to keep tabs on each other for the next hour or so. I knew midnight was swiftly approaching, but wasn't sure what to expect.
As the countdown to the ball drop began, watched as the entire party sort of comically shuffled towards one another, dividing into pairs. It looked graceful, like a waltz of some sort. I could smell my ex's familiar scent broaching my body. Before I had time to take in the moment, I swiveled around just as the crowd yelled, "One!!!" I came face-to-face with him, and we began to, ahem, make out. And I felt... nothing! I couldn't believe it!
Kissing him post-high school was a completely different experience, because there were expectations or strings attached. It felt fun! It was as if my mind had long ago accepted that it was over, but my body wanted to say one last farewell. With that, we laughed and parted ways. When my friends asked what it meant, I told them the truth: nothing. It was totally over between us, and I was happy to be exploring what single could mean for me in college.
New Year's Eve can sometimes come saddled with high expectations, of both the night and the coming year. But on New Year's Eve 2019, I want to wholeheartedly encourage you to let go of conjecture and to let passion drive your decisions. Live in the moment, because the year can feel fleeting in reflection. So, screw it! Kiss an ex, dance on a table, eat late-night diner curly fries with your girlfriends, and start the year — or whatever version of that feels right to you. If 2018 was the year of self-care, I hear by declare 2019 the year of self-dare: dare to be you, dare to do you, and dare to see yourself for the fabulous creature that you are! When it comes to new year's resolutions, abandon routine. Sometimes life can be best when it gets a little messy.