I almost slept through New Year’s Eve last year.
It’s embarrassing, I’ve actually never told anyone this before, but fuck it, here it is. I fell asleep because earlier that day, I had taken drugs — what else? — and ran around San Francisco with my best friend to prepare for the night’s festivities. After a couple hours had passed, I was finding it increasingly hard to stay awake so I told my friend, “I’m going home to take a disco nap. Meet me at my place at 9:30 p.m. and we’ll go to the party together?”
Yes, yes, okay perfect, love you, see you tonight.
So I went home and I passed out. My body felt like a thousand pounds, everything felt heavy, the Earth felt heavy, and when I slept, I felt dead. I was dead.
Side note about drugs: THEY ARE REAL. THEY WILL KNOCK YOUR ASS OUT. THEY DO NOT ASK FOR YOUR PERMISSION TO DO ANYTHING. THEY RAN OUT OF FUCKS TO GIVE A LONG TIME AGO.
I had closed my eyes when it was still light out and by the time I opened them again, the room was pitch black and I was too scared to look at my phone because I knew that it would just say “Fuck-up O’Clock.” It was late. Way too late.
In fact, it was 10:45 p.m. A mere 75 minutes before it was to be 2012. People were no doubt already celebrating at their designated party spots, getting drunk and laughing with their loved ones. Me? I was just coming to from a drug-induced coma in a dark empty house. In retrospect, I don’t think my life could’ve felt more like nothing than it did in that moment.
I had a bunch of missed calls and voicemails from my friend I was supposed to meet (people don’t leave voicemails anymore unless they are concerned that you’re dead) and I had to start immediately getting dressed if I ever wanted to make it to the house party I had agreed to go to. People were waiting for me. Right now my friends were probably crowded around a kitchen at someone’s house in Noe Valley wearing their sequined dresses and starting to seriously worry about my whereabouts.
“Where is Ryan?” one would ask. “You can’t just show up late to a New Year’s Eve party. It’s literally the one party a year you have to be on time for.”
As a culture, we believe that how we spend New Year’s Eve sets the tone for the rest of the year. And if that was the case, 2012 was going to be the worst fucking year of my life.
I knew that couldn’t be true though. Nothing could’ve been worse than 2011. 2011 was all about looking good on the outside, thriving, receiving emails from friends and family that said “Go you! It looks like you’re doing so well! Congratulations!”, and doing face masks and smelling nice to cover up my rotting corpse. Basically tricking everyone into thinking that I was this picture of success when I was really just getting deader by the minute. Ha ha, joke’s on… you? Me? Who can tell anymore.
Wait, do you know how easy it is to trick people into thinking you’re alive when you’re actually withering away? It’s disturbingly simple. You should try it. Honest. It will make your bones freeze. It will shock you how badly people just want to know you’re doing fine so they have one less thing to worry about. It will shock you to see the lengths they’ll go to to insure that your narrative doesn’t change and therefore needlessly complicate their lives.
With an hour and fifteen minutes haunting me like a doomsday clock, I got my shit together at a rapid speed (nothing like facing the potential judgment from your friends to light a fire under your ass, am I right?) and called my friend, fiercely apologetic, explaining that my disco nap had accidentally bled over into the 80s. It became more like a synthesizer nap!
See? I’m joking. I’m normal. Look at me! This is not the face of a man who almost sleeps through New Year’s. You must’ve had me confused me with someone else, someone less capable of telling a joke.
My friends bought my story of me just being SO SLEEPY because I was doing so well and when you’re doing so well you don’t typically do things that would harm you, right?
I came to the party and did my best impression of a functioning human being. It was great. Best one I’ve ever done. I didn’t drink because my stomach still felt coated with drugs and I didn’t want to make things worse. I stayed until 4 a.m., dancing and laughing and chatting and minding the social cues, developing a rhythm like I was a conductor and this house party was my unknowing symphony. If any of the night had felt real to me, I could tell you that the evening was sooo fun. But since it all felt like a job, it will just be remembered as an inconvenience, another thing that got in the way of my downfall.
I’m telling you this not to share a story about me being high on drugs because drugs are boring and can usually be interchangeable with something equally as devastating. This is more of a story about the roles we feel like we have to play in order to make it through. When my life began to take shape in some ways, when people saw me as someone who was “doing great,” I felt the need to go off script for a moment. I wanted to challenge everything I knew about my existence and screw with it until I could no longer tell who or what was in control anymore.
I’m also telling you this to let you know that it is distinctly possible to change everything you know about your life in a single year. 365 days. 365 moments that chip away or, in some cases, rebuild everything you once knew. Don’t believe me? Take drugs, fall asleep, almost miss a holiday, and see where you’re at a year later. New Year’s Eve is almost two weeks away and this year I intend on showing up on time and no longer pretending. It’s just easier that way.