I have a confession: I’ve never had a New Year’s Eve midnight kiss. The past several years are a comical rundown of wrong place, wrong time situations. Family vacations, out-of-town boyfriends and my own fear of making the first move have all gotten in the way.
The setting has been different, but that midnight anticipation is always the same. One second I’m part of the crowd watching the ball drop, only to feel left behind moments later as everyone leans in to kiss someone else. Those five seconds after midnight — when I impatiently stand around and wait for everyone to pull away and start socializing again — are the most agonizing.
Last year felt like my big chance to finally have that movie-worthy New Year’s Eve kiss. An on-again (mostly) off-again guy surprised me by inviting me to one of those all-inclusive parties where you pay an outrageous fee for the promise of unlimited drinks. It would probably be crowded, messy and end up costing more than I bargained for, but still I said yes.
I bought a dress, obsessed over every detail and turned down plans with all of my friends in pursuit of a midnight kiss. Nothing could convince me to turn him down. But as Dec. 31 crept closer, the details about our plans got more and more vague.
And then I was stood up.
But before you think of this as a pity party, hear me out. I saw this coming from a mile away. I couldn’t rely on this guy to return my phone calls, much less keep plans for one of the biggest date nights of the year.
My dreams of finally getting a midnight kiss came crashing to a halt with one tense phone call. Less than 30 seconds passed and that month of anticipation turned to straight embarrassment. I had denied my intuition the entire time, only to get burned in the end. And there I was, left with my party dress and a bottle of champagne and nowhere to go.
That was the problem all along — I was blinded by the fantasy behind this silly holiday. New Year’s Eve is meant for new beginnings and a fresh start, but it has somehow morphed into a holiday that rests on hype. You’re supposed to go out to a wild party, find someone for the perfect kiss and live happily ever after.
And yet somehow that’s not how it turns out. People drink too much, they get separated from their friends, they blow their chances at a midnight kiss or they get stood up. It’s never quite what you expected it to be. There’s too much pressure for everything to be perfect, and when it isn’t, you end up ringing in the new year with disappointment.
So how did I ring in 2013? I could have easily stayed home alone with my champagne bottle to keep me company, but that new dress deserved to be seen. I celebrated in a friend’s basement, even though I was a little overdressed. We played drinking games and sipped champagne from red Solo cups. I walked around barefoot and didn’t worry about my expectations or how the night would end. I was just there to have a good time, no matter what happened.
And when the ball dropped at midnight, I spent those awkward five seconds with a hug from my friend Mary instead of feeling alone. Kissing that guy was the furthest thing from my mind. Instead, I got to spend that moment with a friend I could always count on, and that was all I needed to start a new year.
Andrea Olsen is a weekly contributing columnist who writes about her adventures in Kansas City. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: andrealolsen