Passing ships

I couldn’t be bothered with New Years Eve. I had two invititations for the night, one to a dull party, and another to a not so dull party. I said no to the dull party straight off, but said no more than maybe to the other. I couldn’t get excited, and figured I’d be just as happy staying put and watching a good movie with Rigby. I maintained that charade till about 8pm when I got up to iron a fresh shirt. Even if you don’t want to you can’t really do nothing on NYE. So I dressed and caught the train and was in the city by a little after 9pm.

The city was predictably lively. The weather was pleasant, certainly not hot, but not yet cold. Queues gathered here and there and festive looking party-goers roamed the streets, some of them already wearing silly looking hats. I was aloof from it all, buzzing with the meaty Springsteen I’d listened to on the train on the way in.

The party was at the same venue as last year. It’s a great venue, an apartment in the middle of the city used occasionally as a movie set, with a rooftop accessible by ladder from which to watch the midnight fireworks go off. It’s an interesting crowd to – entrepreneurs, food critics and writers, social media darlings, an occasional entertainment figure, and the odd pleb like me.

I hoped to catch up with a woman I’d met there last year, and few times since. An ex-Big M girl, she was warm and open and seemed to enjoy my company as much as I did hers. I had no real plans except to test my intention to be open. I wasn’t going to share everything, but I was willing to be probed, and ready to be unfolded with the right touch. Naturally she never showed – not that it mattered.

Within 10 minutes I was introduced to another woman who very quickly warmed to me. She was a lively, witty woman, full of energy and quirky asides. I got her frequency early and we engaged in a quick-witted banter that delighted both of us. This came naturally to me, and though that’s not always the case I was surprised to observe how awkward the others in our small group appeared, as if such whimsy and wit was beyond them, or perhaps beneath them. One I could see was getting visibly frustrated by the light-hearted exchange he could not comprehend. What a stick in the mud, I thought.

For the next hour the woman stuck close by me, ready to have and to hold at the first sign from me. It was surprisingly rapid, almost worryingly so. It was flattering in a way, but I sensed it was not all about me. She asked if I had a woman waiting for me at home? Or a man? When I made reference to my housing difficulties she expressed how great it would be for me to live with her in Port Melbourne. There was a manic edge to her, restless, nervous energy that expressed itself in constant movement or activity. I liked her, but she was not my type – then reflected that the 2015 version of H is meant to give others a better go, so I banished that out of my mind.

I went to get myself a cracker with cheese when I got chatting with a woman I’d met last year. We talked about cheese and writing books and being an entrepreneur when her partner joined us. A food writer, he’s a man I like a lot. We got talking, about Negroni’s and dogs, writing and the simple pleasures of a home cooked meal. He insisted I should try some of the wine he had brought, which he poured from a magnum. By the time I got away the girl had disappeared.

I was not completely surprised. She probably thought I’d abandoned her or something. I felt sad for her though. I lingered, just in case, but she was gone. I sent her a Facebook friend request this morning, just to be friendly.

I only brought three beers with me, and only drank one. As the night went on others pressed upon me their wine or their bubbles, and there was a pitcher of old-fashioned punch to be had. I drank in moderation though, unlike last year. I was not in the mood for it, and saw no need. I was happy enough without it.

Nearing midnight I found myself on the roof talking to a very easy-going woman who made it known she’d happily go home with me for a good root. I declined, but accepted a glass of her wine as the rest of the party made itself to the roof. Then midnight arrived and the fireworks went off all about us as everyone oohed and aahed and waved sparklers and took pics and wished everyone a happy new year. Then most of the crowd dispersed, leaving about eight of us on the roof.

I found myself gathered into a small group for conversation. One was an affable German I’d met earlier with his partner, a lovely guy from Perth. The other two were a couple. He was a tall African looking man – from Kenya I soon learned. She was a petite and very attractive Asian woman – from South Korea.

I’d noticed her earlier. I was drawn to her, not just by the way she looked, but also because of something in her manner, and the inviting way she looked at me. I was happy to meet her, but it was she that made it happen.

We stood on the roof for about half an hour having a very agreeable discussion between us, before we adjourned downstairs. By now it was quite cool. Downstairs Sanjay – that was her name – and I continued our conversation alone.

I liked her. If he was there alone and single I’d have gobbled her up, and I think she’d have been happily gobbled up. She wasn’t alone though, nor was she single. Our conversation became intimate and impassioned, we laughed and agreed and debated. It’s one of those weird mores that two people like us can connect so well, yet nothing more will come of it, not even friendship. Her boyfriend, a very pleasant man, wants to connect with me professionally, but otherwise I’ll never see them – or her – ever again. How sad.

I left soon after. The streets were festive and busy. Crowds gathered around the food outlets and lines stretched out into the clubs. I wended my way through it like a yacht passing through pleasure craft on Boxing day in Sydney Harbour. At the station I filled myself up with some greasy food and hopped on a train going my way. It was about 2am, and Rigby was waiting for me.

Today has been a lazy day, as most new years days are. I haven’t made it past the front gate, and am dressed in the same track-suit pants and t-shirt I threw on when I climbed out of bed this morning. I’ve found myself remembering Sanjay a lot. I don’t know if there’s anything I can learn from that.


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