It came around again, New Year’s Eve. Surprising, that. The way Julie Milner went on, you’d think it was the shock of the year. Inevitability wasn’t a concept she liked very much, so she’d cherry pick her moments of belief and compliance. But here it was, New Year’s Eve and all the great expectations that come with it. Every year she’d say, “Fuck it, it’s just a day. Putting numbers of significance on it doesn’t make it significant. Why do we have to have such a carry on? I’m not doing it. Fuck this shit.” She would say the words…but then, every year, at around 11:50pm, no matter where she was or who she was with, a cacophony of emotion would involuntarily sweep across her mind and body, as she spent the only ten minutes of any given year, frozen to the spot, trying to figure…shit…out. All of it!
“What the fuck was I thinking? Why am I here, of all places? What the hell have I done? Aren’t things supposed to change? Everything has to change, right? It’s logical. Things can’t just stay still and unmoved. Yet here I am, still the same, still wanting to be different. I’m supposed to be here, amongst all this carry on, looking into the eyes of the person I love knowing that everything will be ok as long as we have each other. Pah! How do you look into the eyes of the person you love when they’re fixed upon someone else? Jump in the middle? Or what if those eyes are elsewhere? FaceTime? What if those eyes don’t even exist? I’m not putting this shit on myself. Nobody’s eyes can tell me shit about whether or not shit’s gonna be ok! What? Are they magic eyes? Magical fortune telling eyes? Fuck them eyes! Fuck them. I don’t want to be here like this next year. I will kill myself before that happens. I won’t, but I’ll be really fucking miffed about it if I’m doing this shit again next year. I don’t want to do this. It’s desperate. Shit fuck, I need to change everything, but I’m not sure where to start! I can’t do everything by myself. I’m a coward. Oh, man, is that why the “P” bomb is my least favourite word in the whole world? Because I am one! NO! Not no more, I’m not. I’m fat. I’m fucking fat still and I couldn’t even change that in one whole year! Didn’t need to do it in 12 weeks, I had one whole year… I had time. When is time going to stop judging me? Hovering over me like the shadow of a beast reminding me of my failed life every goddamn second. If time is infinite, why do we stress this shit? It’s just a day! What does it matter? Matter? It’s all relative. Infinity of time and space, submit my soul to the ether. Release me from your unforgiving grasp of dispaaaaair…. three, two…what? HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!”
Every year. An inevitability she’s yet to side-step. “We lost you for a bit there, Jules, are you ok?” She wasn’t ok, but then she’s never been “ok”. Julie Milner is one of those people that we, on the outside, would look at as a lone adventurer. Always up for things, never says no. “Fancy a pint after work, Jules?” “Sure, but just a quick one. Got to go tightrope walking between two skyscrapers for this thing I said I’d help out with.” “My Nan’s having a party on Sunday, Jules, wanna come?” “Sure thing! I’ll pop by after my tap dance routine at the retirement centre.” Everybody gets a smile out of the mad life of Julie Milner. Even Julie Milner. That’s why she does it. She loves it. Her life changes dramatically, year-by-year, and everyone sees it, but Julie. An unrelenting desire to “do more” leaves her feeling like she’s never done enough. She never seems to tire, but she is exhausted. There is a void in the soul of Julie Milner that she cannot fill. She is curious and inquisitive, so cannot settle, despite longing for something to soothe her heart. Things do, sometimes. People do. Julie Milner’s life is full and rich, when likened to the “average” life, but to make such a likeness is surely mediocrity by definition, and Julie Milner is complex, to say the least.
The annual ten minute search for meaning takes Julie by surprise every time. It wallops her in the chest like a cannonball, leaving her momentarily breathless. It is a profound moment that shakes her to the very core. She feels all the hurt she brushed aside in the year gone by. The pain courses through her veins like a powerful narcotic. The intensity of feeling is like nothing explained. Happiness floods into the tear ducts of each eye. Anxiety cramps her muscles. Vulnerability weakens her limbs. Her mind is awash with answers to problems unsolved and issues unresolved. Realisation of opportunities missed and situations handled inappropriately churn the pit of her stomach and make her want to scream out. That look. That face. The disappointment. The longing. It takes everything she has just to hold herself together in those ten minutes before midnight on new year’s eve. But, in an instant, it is over. The sensation is lost to her quicker than it came. As with the click of a hypnotist’s finger, she is free.
“Jules, are you ok?” “What? Oh, yeah! This year is going to be freaking awesome! Just you wait and see!”
And so she returns – the lone adventurer – thinking only of her next big quest. Not dwelling on the things that grip our minds and rip at our hearts, she lives, she does. Go brave, Julie Milner, for the year is yours to conquer.
Happy New Year.