Breathe In. Breathe in the holiday season with all of its hustle, bustle, tinsel and bags.
Breathe in family. Savour the moments you have together under the twinkling lights. Breathe in friendships and gift exchanges….
Breathe in all holiday season long. And hold it. Hold it all in.
Then finally as the New Year tolls… exhale. The holiday is over. The new season has begun.
I feel as though I have been holding my breath since the beginning of December and I am glad that I can finally breathe again.
The New Year has begun. But I’m greeting it as the same old me. Are there things I would like to change about myself? Sure. But I don’t prescribe to only setting a goal of changing myself when the New Year hits. I’m one of those people that is a constant work in progress.
I know many others disagree though. Carrie is one of them. Every year she sets a new goal for herself for the new year. Sometimes she achieves it. Sometimes she doesn’t. But this year she is looking up and hoping for a better year than 2012.
We started out the new year officially moving her into her own apartment.
I watched as she became more excited with each box we unpacked. It was as if with each plate that was put in the cupboard, each piece of silverware in the drawer it became more of a reality to her. This was it. She had moved out. She was finally back on her own.
I couldn’t help but get caught up in her excitement. In my mind I was already rearranging my own furniture.
She was starting out fresh. A new year. A new life. And here we were physically building her new start together. It felt good to help her out. And later as the last box was unpacked we sat around her fake fireplace and toasted our success.
She smiled shyly at me, “Thank you for all of your help today,” she said.
“Don’t mention it,” I replied and I meant it. If I could help her put even part of her life back together I was happy to do it. I’ve been to the bottom before. I have been lost and struggling and I know what it means to have a chance to start fresh. This was hers and I was happy to be there to help her out.
Then she leaned over and kissed me.
For a second I was drawn in by the warmth of the fire, the smell of her hair and the effects of the alcohol. I wanted to stay right there by the fire the entire night.
But I knew I couldn’t. I pulled away and sat back.
“Carrie,…” I started.
“It’s fine, Heather.” And with that she stood up and walked away.
Damn it. Why was it that every time I tried to do something good I blew it?
This wasn’t entirely my fault. I had been honest with her. When I visited her in the hospital I had told her I wanted to pull back a bit. To let her focus on herself, because that was what she needed. That I would be there for her, but I didn’t want to take advantage of her. I had tried to make her understand. But the words sounded hollow. To both of us.
As I sat by the fire trying to find some way to re-explain Carrie came up and handed me my coat.
I stepped out into the night and heard her close the door firmly behind me. It was quickly drowned out by the sounds of her neighbour’s party. The world was celebrating and I was standing in the snow on Carrie’s doorstep.
Apparently her new beginning did not include me.
I sighed for a moment. Perhaps this was better. I was never very good at staying friends with ex’s anyway. There was always a period where I tried, but eventually it became apparent that I was doing more harm than good. They were still interested in dating me and as long as I was in their lives it seemed as if there was a chance. So no matter how hard I tried, it eventually came down to goodbye. Perhaps it was better for her that she realized it first.
She wasn’t closing the door on me, she was closing the door on a painful chapter in her life and opening a brand new one.
Suddenly the night didn’t seem quite so dark.
As I got back into my car I called Brian.
“I wasn’t expecting to hear from you,” he said.
“I wasn’t expecting it either. But I think I’m ringing in the new year in my car. Want to hang out for the count down?”
“Sure,” he said laughing.
… And with that, we rung in the New Year.