H A P P Y N E W Y E A R ! ! !
The holidays this year (last year?) were better than I could have hoped for over such a short period of time. Less than a week at home with the family and yet it didn't fly by as quickly as most trips back have felt like. I wasn't running back and forth and booking who to see when and spending every other evening out for dinner. I was just.. home. And I felt.. present. And I was still busy, we are always busy during the holidays, but it wasn't to the heightened levels of stress and annoyance that so occasionally peak when you stay together with the same people for a solid amount of time.
The only other faces I saw this time around was Benny's and Sarika's and both hangouts were the exact opposite of exhausting, even after long long catchup talks. And what's more, by the last day, I was actually ready to come back. Excited to leave London might be pushing it but I was looking forward to spending the New Year with my Coruña family. It felt like a while since we'd last been together celebrating and spending time with one another.
I don't know if it was because airports have a way of making me over emotional or perhaps because it was coming to the end of such a full year but I was somehow overcome with so many mushy feelings. Emotional and reflecting on the things that were and the things that are and the things that will be in the coming year.
I thought about Kaska and Gosia and Harley and how much we had all been through and how lucky I was (I am) to have met them on the first day but then how lucky we all were to have sustained such a strong relationship between us after all this time. Lucky that I have so much love for these three people in a way that I can only compare to the love of family. Because when Sarika asked me the other day, how things were with me and my friends in Coruña, all I could say was "great" upon the realisation that they are my world and reason I have pushed through some of my roughest times here, from work and otherwise. "Great" is not nearly enough to encompass any heartfelt emotion but in that moment, that was all I could think of to say.
And then as I sat there, waiting for my gate number to appear on the screen, with all the mushiness flowing back to me, I wrote them all a short essay of my declaration of love and their replies were beyond the funniest and individual and obvious responses I have ever received. Every one of them represented to the T in each of their messages.
I wanted to write just now that I smiled the whole way home, except that that wasn't true because now I remember the shitty kid who sat behind me kicking my seat and hitting the table for the majority of the flight. And so it goes, that to this day, I have yet to experience a decent flight back to Coruña (from where ever I am flying from) because if it's not already been dampened by emotional goodbyes or delays, there is always that kid right behind to kick me back to reality.
Our celebrations began at Kaska's for dinner and we ate ridiculous amounts before we prepared our grapes* for the countdown. After a momentary panic, we started the grapes on the third strike of the bell (damned until March!) and finished in fits of part hysterical laughter and part concentration on not choking after we'd stuffed the grapes so quickly into our mouths without any time to actually eat them. The champagne was opened and we toasted the New Year for the adventures to follow.
* There is a Spanish tradition on New Year's of eating 12 grapes in time with the 12 strikes of the bells at midnight. Each one is said to be each month of the coming year and every grape eaten symbolises good luck and prosperity to follow. This is usually carried out at home with the family before everyone goes to town partying into the next day.
We could hear the fireworks from the apartment so we wrapped up and headed down to the beach with another bottle of champagne and glass jars between us. The streets were empty, just as they were around 9:30pm when I was walking to Kaska's. It was like a ghost town - the complete and exact opposite to the atmosphere in London or England or anywhere else I would have thought on New Year's Eve night. I guess it really is family first here before any of the festivities make a start. By the time we made it to the sea front we'd missed all the fireworks so we walked along the sand and up on to the rocks where there were seats and tables. We made another toast to the New Year with the prettiest view and headed back as soon as the bottle was finished.
Gosia finally met us at Kaska's with the greatest dessert and we warmed ourselves up over hot berry crumble. It was 5am by the time we managed to head out and I'd already had two coffees to push myself through. It was a sad sad affair when we eventually turned up to the "party" which turned out to be more like a bad high school prom. Our ticket bought us two free drinks and we didn't even make it passed halfway through the first one before collecting our coats again and leaving the behind the bad music and 10:1 boy girl ratio behind.
Instead, after stopping by at my apartment to put some warmer clothes on, Harley, Gosia and I walked around the the beach front up towards the Aquarium where Gosia had parked her car. We passed more bars and more groups of people stumbling drunk across the streets and almost every boy in a tux and every girl dressed to the nines. It was fun to see but in the end, really not our kind of night. We walked and talked and laughed and caught up with one another some more. And I couldn't have imagined how I would have felt had the party been worth staying for; my eyes were half closed for the last 10 minutes of our walk.
I checked the clock as I crawled into bed. 7:30am.
I think I broke my record.