It begins with a step, and everything else follows. The last time I had this much fun entering a new year was a few years ago. 2010 though was different though. Alone in an apartment in the height of winter in a small town, I counted down into the year through my snores and a wish that I had means of transporting myself to the centre of all the attraction. Alone and almost out of my mind, I resorted to sleep. When I woke up, the year had already begun, and I just followed it. In some places, that is the worst possible way to begin the year. And look how fabulous that year turned out. I visited places I’d never been before, met many nice people I’d never met before, lived and loved voraciously, and now I’m back to almost the exact same spot, continuing the journey.
And so yesterday began very promisingly, with a visit to a Chinese buffet. I figured that if we’re going to eat into the new year, we might as well do it at the expense of someone else. Not being in the mood to cook all morning, I starved myself into the evening, and headed out when I could with a bunch of friends to the nearest buffet. The countries present at the table were Benin, Morroco, Nigeria and Indonesia. A few hours and many helpings later, we were on our way to another get-together of Nigerians in the United States, but not before finding out that the fortune cookie had a very personalized message for me, again: “You shall step on the soil of many countries.” There couldn’t have been a more auspicious beginning.
After many hours of dancing and listening to Nigerian highlife in the presence of grown folks from Nigeria many of whom haven’t been home in three years, we set out again this time to the bar where the countdown to the new year took place. The bar was Erato, one of the most cozy bars in Edwardsville. In there was my friend the blogger from Ukraine, and her husband. They had a lovely gift for me – a cool ornamented cap to keep my head warm, and an Amazon gift card. Three glasses of mojito, plenty loud guffaws and wine-induced railleries later, we were done.
The countdown was loud and cheerful, as should be in such a place. When it was over, we hugged and smiled, and welcomed ourselves in to the new year. Then we went to the last spot of celebration: the house of the same cool couple to eat the most delicious dessert: cake and champagne, and to laugh, argue, discuss, disagree, learn and mostly to share. By the time we got back home at 4 am, it was hard to summarize the experience as anything but a perfect welcoming into a year of promise.
And all through the night, I kept remembering the text of that message in the fortune cookie.