I celebrated the New Year with family and friends in Wales. We stood outside holding glasses of pink champagne and watched the fireworks, faces lit with flashes of green, red and blue. We played with sparklers, spelling our names with the fading yellow light. The sky was filled with Chinese lanterns. Hundreds of glowing wishes soaring against a sky made of ink.
Auld Lang Syne played in the background, filtering from a neighbour's TV. There were hugs and kisses, toothy smiles and eyes that twinkled more than usual. Strangers, wearing silly flashing hats, passed us with a jovial wave and clink of near-empty bottles.
Minutes we were suspended, trapped in a time where nothing mattered. Woes and worries, fears and frustrations; forgotten. It was like they slipped into a place, a mere crevice, beyond recognition, beyond memory. But only for a little while. Only while the fireworks still had gunpowder and the streamers still popped and the champagne still fizzed in flute glasses.
But then the cold came. Clawing and biting at our reddened cheeks and ears, pulling at the memories, the past, logic. As the rest stamped muddied feet before going inside, I stood on the driveway amidst the carnage of those suspended minutes. Feet surrounded by the shards of scorched sparklers and a jumble of pink and purple streamers; a champagne cork and an empty bottle.
The sky was dark and still, starless. It hit me like a thwack against my wind-cold cheek; 2010 was really over. There would be no possibility of un-doing, no should-have would-have could-have's. There was no going back.
The finality of it was frightening; that time could really creep upon you like that. And it wasn't just the unexpectedness of it all; it was the reminder how fragile time really is. How little of it we have at our disposal.
The Rolling Stones once said: time waits for no one. And so, dearest reader, let's not be late.
Happy New Year.