I’ve always been too much of a free spirit to really respect time beyond the changing of the seasons, when I pop my distracted head out of the clouds long enough to notice that I need a cardigan over my sundress. And so, it’s only now that I’m sharing something I read recently: that the way you spend New Year’s Day is the way you’ll spend the rest of your year. If that’s true, 2014 will be the year my husband speaks to me through the carcasses of dead animals.
To be honest, I’m hoping that I can push my 24 tone-setting hours back a bit, and base 2014 on the day-sized chunk of time beginning at 8pm on December 31st. Here’s the shakedown of what happened in that period (eat your heart out, Jack Bauer):
- PIZZA! My two college roommates came over to stay the night, bearing homemade fig jam, and we turned it into delicious pizza. I would like to eat a lot of fig, arugula, and prosciutto pizza this year.
- DANCING! This is the amazing thing about (Step 1) being a grown-up and (Step 2) not caring what your neighbors think: you can blast “What Does the Fox Say?” at top volume late at night, and nothing happens except a lot of gleeful flailing. (Wait, I forgot Step 3: acquire very fun/tipsy friends.)
- REVERSE CHARADES! Have you played this? It goes like so: Get 6-10 people. Have them all write ten words on slips of paper and put them in a bowl. Make them easy words because – unlike regular charades – you’ll be seeing how many you can rapid-fire guess in a minute. Think “cowboy,” “Beyoncé,” and “tentacles.” (The last one is way too much fun.) War and Peace would be a bit ambitious. Now split into teams! Each round, one person will guess while the other 2-4 people on their team simultaneously act out the word. There’s no talking or planning allowed, but they can definitely use each other as props. There’s technically a board game version of this (which you really don’t need), but the point is that this game has won over all my friends. It even got my tough, ex-military brother-in-law to lovingly cradle J in his arms as they acted out the “joey” form of a kangaroo.
Beyond the bullet points of the night, those 24 hours also revealed a mystery. At 4:15am, I woke up upon hearing the guest bedroom door creak open. Footsteps led down the stairs, and I assumed one of my friends was getting a glass of water from the kitchen. I fell back asleep.
At 4:25, I awoke again, this time to J tugging on my arm and whispering, “What’s that?!” There was a quiet but insistent knocking coming from somewhere in the house. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. I jumped out of bed and threw on my bathrobe. By the time I opened our bedroom door, the noise had stopped, and I almost ran into my friend at the top of the stairs. Her eyes were enormous, and she was shaking.
“Where am I?” she asked plaintively. And then, close to tears: “Why didn’t you come get me?”
After many hugs and much hair-petting, the story came out. My friend had woken up in the pitch dark and hit a wall in front of her face. She felt all around, but there was nothing except blank plaster and she couldn’t find a way out. She started tapping on the wall, sure the party was still going on, and then she became distraught when no one was willing to let her out. Finally, finally, she became conscious enough to turn around, find the light switch, and open the door. She had been trapped in the little bathroom under the stairs.
“How long was I down there?” she moaned, and I reassured her: “It was only ten minutes, honey. It wasn’t long at all.”
“It felt like an eternity,” she said. And the strangest past is not that she walked in her sleep – although she’d never done it before – but that she lost hours of time. She was awake when the party ended, alert when we said our good nights, and lucid when she and our third friend laughed themselves to sleep in the guest bed. What happened in her dreams to rob her of a whole evening?
I don’t think we’ll ever know what happened in the first hours of 2014, but if we live the year as we live the first day, there will be abundant mysteries in store. What reassures me, though, is knowing that mint chocolate chip pancakes eaten in the light of day are a cure for even the strangest of ailments.
Have you ever walked in your sleep, or lost time like this? Please tell me your stories, and top the one from my colleague about her sleepwalking twin cousins, who used to have unconscious fistfights in the night.