In with the new never felt better

2021! It’s almost here, and I’ve never been more excited to welcome a new year.

New Year’s is usually a pretty ho hum holiday in my book, but not this year, no ma’am. It’s been a train wreck of a year, and my readiness for transition from the old to the new is bigger than ever. Here’s how I would describe it ...

Like a record player run out of songs, 2020 has been stuck riding the label, sliding and crackling at the end, the staticky nothingness signaling the conclusion of the party, and everyone all gone home.

2021 is putting a new record on, flipping the switch, gently placing the needle and beginning to sway a little as the pop of the record gives way to guitar chords and drum beats and bodies moving in sync, the energy and volume swelling.

Like a college student coming of age, 2020 is like the inevitable birthday visit to Humphrey’s at midnight when the bartender hands the birthday girl a mini plunger upside down, filled with a shot of liquor. Lips to rubber cup, the sharp unwelcome bite of vodka causes shivers and a wince at the taste.

2021 is the celebration with friends that follows, laughing and glassy-eyed, jumbled together in a too-small booth, storytelling and relishing the freedom of being out, inside together, no limits, just fun.

Like sprinting across the finish line of a running race, 2020 is the moment you come to a stop, spitting saliva, gulping for air, hands on knees, stumbling toward the water table and hoping for a bagel.

2021 is the easing of your ragged breath, endorphins pumping, embracing your cheering husband with a sweaty, grateful hug, both of you proud and impressed that you pushed forward and made it through the challenge.

And, finally, 2020 is like the drawn out anticipation and preparation for the visit of a long lost, dear friend. You’ve cooked and cleaned, set the table and picked out something cool to wear. You wonder what you’ll talk about and what she looks like now, and then, suddenly, the door bell rings.

2021 is you rushing to the door, flinging it open and shouting your friend’s name. You say, “Come in! You made it! You look fabulous! I missed you!” and bear hug each other for a while. Then you settle in for a fun night of catching up and conspiring, sharing everything that’s happened since you last hung out.

2021 may involve some or maybe none of the swift and magical transformations I’m dreaming of, but the closing of one chapter and beginning of the next is surely a good start to moving my story along. It’s felt stalled and languishing but, now, suddenly revived with the promise of a new chapter and a sharpened pencil. It’s New Years Eve! I’m writing the first page tonight, and, no doubt, it’s going to be good. Cheers, 2021.

— Carol Wittemann of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].