A story for New Year's Eve eve

New Year’s Eve, sometime in the late 1990′s, somewhere on the northern shore of the Long Island Sound. I am a guest at a small dinner party — I don’t have a date, but that’s OK because I have already accepted the fact that I am going to die alone and unloved in my wine-stained bathrobe in front of the TV tuned to the Weather Channel surrounded by a billion empty cans of cat food.

Then one of the women at the dinner party gets a phone call from her daughter in England — it’s midnight there and she’s calling to wish her mother a Happy New Year. The woman tells her daughter “Happy New Year to you too, dear” and shuts her phone and smiles sadly. “She went to Europe for the Summer when she was 20,” the woman explains about the girl who just called, “And she met an English boy when she was touring Monet’s garden at Giverny and she married him and she’s lived in London ever since.”

The parents around the table comisserate with her — it’s hard when your child lives an ocean away.    I guess.     Because all I could think was:

That bitch stole my life.

That 20-year old girl who when away for a Summer in Europe who met an English boy in Monet’s garden at Giverny and married him and lived happily ever after in London: That shudda been me. WHY ELSE did I hitch hike up and down the whole of freaking France the Summer I was 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, … until I was 29  except to have some dashing foreigner fall in love with me and whisk me away to his fabulous foreign country? [Oh, sure, I'd had my own fabulously foreign first husband but I wasn't going to let that get in the way of a good sulk.]

I don’t know who that girl is, the one who stole my life, but she’s making me  plenty mad this New Year’s Eve. Seething, raging, get-drunk-as-quick-as-possible mad.

The wisest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say to me was “Vivian, everything works out in the end.”  No, nobody said that to me that night – I was too busy working on giving myself what I still remember as The Worst Hang Over In My Life.  It was about five years later when I got that wonderful piece of advise. …which I didn’t believe then, really, until the next year when I met the man I call Top Cat and he took me away to the wonderful foreign land called Long Island.

It’s true. Everything works out in the end. “It might not be the way you think you want it to turn out,” my friend told me, “But it does work out, you’ll see.”  I’d like to add that it might not work out when you want it to, either; but it does work out in the end, just dandy.

I don’t begrudge that unknown girl in England her (my) life anymore. And I can hardly remember that version of me, that New Year’s Eve, who had almost given up on the future. But then again, I’ve tried to stay away from New Year’s Eve parties ever since.

Me and Top Cat are planning a picnic dinner in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace surrounded by our cats and some quilts for when the champagne makes us too drowsy to stay awake until midnight.

Happy New Years to you all, past present and future.

[I did this embroidery of Giverny in 1990, back before I had a grudge against the place which I have totally forgiven it for. I'm not the only person to have been robbed of my rightful life, am I? Or to have a resentment against a certain place on the map? I'm not that peculiar, right? Right?]

9 comments to A story for New Year's Eve eve

  • tippy

    Vivian ; Your first paragraph describes ME.
    Cat food cans and all.
    Looking back is soooo much fun, isn’t it?

  • mary

    The tapestry is beautiful. How did you learn to do it? ( embroidery, I mean)

  • I often think about all the other lives I could be living. Seems like everywhere I go, I think, “well, I could live here. this would be my house, this would be my job”. I used to think it was because I was not satisfied with the life I chose. Now I see it as being overly happy with my life. I want it ALL and I want More, and I love this place and that place which means I really love most places and most of Life, and that has led me home to a contentment I never thought possible now at 53..

  • Susun

    Until now I thought Top Cat was the head cat of your group (and he probably is), but I seriously thought he was of the feline variety and your writings just animated him to human level, as in pretend time. Hilarious. Now I’m straightened out. Love the embroidery and the memories. I constantly, like Julie, imagine life elsewhere and how free and independent and surrounded by natural beauty I could be…and here I am, citified and surrounded by freeways. Life is a mystery. Happy Happy New Year. I’m not sad to see this one go.

  • Barbara Lemme

    That’s the story of how many lives? I can only imagine. That dream went many times over and life just happens and is the way it is. And I’m not complaining.

  • Monet’s home (well, actually, the garden by the house, in May, full of more kinds of iris than I could count) … is the location of one of 3 places where I’ve had one of those moments of being so totally taken by the present, right now, where I am (was) that the universe entered me and I entered the universe. I’m saying I love the embroidery piece.

    I’m also saying I met The Man (mine) in a bar right here in Phoenix where I was living, then, still, talked to him cuz he had the best ass I’ve ever seen (still true) and I wanted That Ass, and I also wanted That Ass permanently in my life, in my family, in my kids’ DNA and ON my kids if they were boys (but only 1 of my 2 sons got That Ass – rats!)

    … so yea, I’m saying I met the Universe in Monet’s Garden at age 40, but it was having met The Man with That Ass years before, right in my own back yard, that got me ready! Things DO work out.

  • Jacquelyn

    I don’t know about Monet’s garden….for a minute there I thought you were talking Grey Gardens. I think that is Edie you were imagining way back then….and see how lucky you are….things worked out!
    Hope to see a picture of New Year’s Eve Grand Full Blue Moon Eclipse in Friday’s Post.
    Happy New ERA!

  • Nothing to do with this post.
    I just read the September chapter. You are Brilliant!

    “I fascinated myself”. That little sentence – amazing.

  • I always imagine myself in California and I still intend to end up there someday. I never thought my husband would dislike California and basically everywhere else too, enough that I wouldn’t be living in the only place I want to be. I still am hoping it all works out in the end!

    This blue moon is supposed to be an eclipse? I didn’t know that, just that its a blue moon and here I went and posted a photo of it on my blog for my Happy New Year Post. Well, it’s still special to me without the eclipse part.

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