There are any number of songs about New Years Eve, New Years Day, the concept of the New Year and the actuality of it. If memory serves, there was an indie rock/emo outfit in the early ’00s called The New Year. It’s both specific and universal, an easy way to conjure up feeling and meaning.

Different cultures around the world celebrate the passing of one journey around the sun to another in different ways, but every culture observes this. It’s why despite my natural predilection towards cynicism, I can’t hang with the idea that “it’s just another day.”

Same goes for birthdays; even on the years where I have felt that being officially recognized as “older” was nothing much to celebrate. I still want to take time to contemplate, reflect, and plan. Granted, as any righteous self-help book will tell you, you don’t need to– in fact, you probably shouldn’t– wait until these seemingly arbitrary milestones to take stock and set yourself on a course of self improvement. The best time to start is always today, they say. 

The meme this year has been the “new year/new me” idea, but like most memes, the jokes on it far outnumber the sincere posts. While I do know  many who are very serious about their goals around fitness, mental health, activism or artistic output, I know twice as many posting pics of microwave burritos and tipped over trash cans. But one thing the optimists and the pessimists seem to agree on is such: 

2018 was brutal.

My 2018 started at the Lava Lounge in Belltown with a small consortium of friends. Our plans to go bar-hopping were thwarted by the fact that you had four-people crushes at every bar. We decided to stay in the spot where we already had a seat. We cheersed, joked about resolutions, got serious, got silly again. Like you do. Two of said people I no longer know. 

2018 ended in a tuxedo t-shirt, an outfit that matched my co-workers. We administered a champagne toast to the folks hanging out at our bar, many of whom had ostensibly been thwarted in their own bar hopping efforts. The DJ played an innocuous pop hit from the last twenty years, and then another, then, for some reason, “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen. The days since have been a mix of too much and too little time off, catching the last hellos of friends who are going back to strenuous work schedules or other cities. Many of said friends I may see again in summer, or next year, or three years from now.

I have no grand plans for 2019; I don’t believe that by virtue of it not being 2018 things will necessarily be better. 2019 could be great, or it could just be a whole bunch of fresh hells.

But it is, at least for now, new.