The Extraordinariness of Ordinary Things

I’ve been invited to a New Year’s Eve party — nothing fancy, just pizza, salad, boxed wine, and sparkling cider. I’m looking forward to it with all the expectation as if it were a fancy dress ball because this will be my very first New Year’s Eve party. Even as I write these words, it doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. In my entire life, I have never been to a New Year’s Eve party.

twists and turnsNew Year’s doesn’t meant that much to me. It’s a relatively arbitrary date, and mostly signifies nothing but a new calendar, which, I suppose, is something to celebrate. My new calendar has 365 blank squares, and there is the question of how I will use those squares. With notations of appointments and special days, of course. Perhaps with reminders of bills to pay and chores to do. But many of those squares will be blank. What will I do with those blank days? I can’t even begin to guess.

I know I will be leaving my father’s house, which has been both a place of refuge in my grief and a place of horror because of my schizophrenic brother and dying father. Although I have been thinking of this leaving for several years now, I still haven’t a clue what to do with my freedom. How does one choose where to go or what to do when there is no particular reason to be anywhere, no particular reason to do anything? (Well, there are dance classes here, and good friends, so those are important considerations, but I do not want to settle down, not here, not anywhere.)

But all that is yet to come. This is the last day of the old calendar, and for the first time ever I have the square filled in. New Year’s Eve party. 6:00pm.

Not only have I never gone to a New Year’s Eve party, I’ve seldom even stayed up to midnight to usher in the New Year, though for the past few years, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve made a point of toasting the brand new year with a crystal goblet of sparkling cider as a symbol of my commitment to living a full life.

Despite all my devastating losses, I am living fully. Well, partying fully, anyway. I’ve never gone to so many parties in such as short time as I did these past few weeks. Thanksgiving dinner, birthday party, pizza/taco party, Christmas party, Christmas Eve party, Christmas dinner, luncheon, three tea parties (those three I hosted).

And now a New Year’s Eve party.

It’s ironic when I think of it. I’ve spent the past couple of years dreaming of exotic and impossible adventures (impossible because they are beyond my physical capacities) in the hopes of finding transcendence or at least a new way of looking at life. Maybe, for me, transcendence will be found in the ordinary. My life has been counter to most people’s lives. I’ve lived a life of the heart and mind — loving profoundly, grieving deeply, reading profusely, thinking enormously — that the ordinary everyone else takes for granted is, for me . . . truly extraordinary.

Wishing you an extraordinary New Year’s Eve.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.