It’s been two hours. As usual, the clock ticks without hurry; it has all the time in the world, after all. The minute and hour hands steadily approach twelve. In approximately twenty minutes, it will be a new year. His pen hovers above a page that is crisp and ready. The leather binding on his journal, weathered with age, begins to grow tired. It has been open to the same page for the past two hours. The pen in his hand quivers. A vibration runs through it, caused by the stress he has been exerting involuntarily for so long. So far, the shadow it casts is the only thing that taints the page, white as the snow that litters the city streets. Brows furrowed and back hunched, anyone who walks in would mistake him for an inanimate statue. From a certain angle, he looks like The Thinker, sitting motionless on a pedestal in the Rodin Museum in Paris. (Except, he’s sitting motionless on a stool in his apartment in New York City.) Regardless, he is certainly The Thinker at that very moment. And The Thinker who is thinking exceptionally hard.
He sets the pen down. Flipping through 365 pages, he sees the list from exactly a year ago:
1. Put more effort into things.
2. Work out more/lose weight.
3. Get better grades.
4. Sober up.
6. Like kids.
7. Be nicer to people (especially friends).
9. Try new things.
10. Get a girlfriend.
He stares at the list for approximately fifteen minutes. Brows still furrowed and back still hunched over his desk, he finds himself in the same place he was exactly a year ago. And, thinking deeper still, he realizes he’s in the same place he was the year before that. And the year before that. The lists seem to be the same each year. The resolutions are never achieved.
2012 did not bring a more hard-working version of him, as he had resolved it would. He worked out more, but also ate more and gained ten extra pounds in 2012. He took calculus and failed the course in 2012. He attempted to sober up, but relapsed and also took up smoking in 2012. He volunteered once at the hospital and caught an exotic flu in 2012. He babysat for his neighbour, and hated kids even more in 2012. He lost his temper and lost his best friend in 2012. His flu was so severe that he couldn’t travel anywhere in 2012. He tried mountain biking, but broke his leg in 2012. He broke his leg by crashing his bike into his date — needless to say, he didn’t get a girlfriend in 2012.
In the end, 2012 was just like 2011. And 2010. Insignificant. And shitty.
He had so many resolutions that he wanted to fulfill.
Something clicks into place as he turns off the desk lamp. Awakening from his motionlessness, he finally straightens his back. The creases between his brows disappear, his body no longer hunched over a blank sheet of paper. He gets up from his desk and sits by the window, journal in lap. In the distance, he sees a sea of nameless faces. Children, grandparents, lovers, all waiting for the ball to drop. It won’t be long now. He checks the clock; thirty seconds left. He finds himself unable to suppress the swelling of excitement in his heart. He wasn’t a fan of New Year’s before, but somehow its magic has brought hope to even the most hopeless person. Fifteen seconds. For a moment, he senses a uniformity in the noise in Times Square; it’s so loud that the noise becomes a buzzing, and that buzzing is so uniform it seems silent. He imagines the entire world breathing in rhythm for the very last moments of 2012, right now. Five seconds. Four. Three. Two. He glances down at the page of his journal, still open and crisp but no longer blank.
1. HAPPY new year.
And he smiles a grin full of renewed hope; perhaps that’s the only resolution he needs.