The hour is a splinter past midnight and the year is just 2012. Neon, phosphorescently crowned princesses sway and twirl on the grass. Their consorts come and go on cruisers. I’m nursing Tuis and sobering up, but I don’t mind. I’m buzzing on strangers who behave like friends, friends who have begun to constitute a family, and the fact that the ocean’s fewer than 100 meters away. For once, New Year’s Eve is devoid of wind that bites my goose pimpled thighs, too-high heels, and emotionally self-destructive affairs. I’m dancing in someone’s front yard and I care not who’s watching.
Three hours prior: Fireworks explode over the carnival in Queen Elizabeth Park.
PAUSE: Scooping ice cream.
PLAY: Ingesting a fizzy gin concoction served by the boss.
HALF SPEED: The dewy, ice cream eating crowd applauds the pyrotechnic display. The 9 p.m. show is sufficient celebration for the choc mint and raspberry-tinged children who aren’t allowed to stay up until the calendar actually turns. I breathe in the warm air.
FULL SPEED: Finish my drink. Back to work.
Threeandahalfhourslater: My phone vibrates in my pocket, every now and then, alerting me to messages that mention swimming in the sea, the debaucheries of yore that I wish had extended or expanded into…
Three additional hours later: I am at the helm of a whale watching bus-cum-maxi taxi full of inebriated and encouraging passengers and many dollars worth of DJ equipment. I’ve driven on this side of the road exactly twice before.
Parking is a group effort. I hop out; they tumble. We’re greeted by a guy with an unforgettable name (which at the moment, I have forgotten) and an orderly mop of dreadlocks. Let’s just call him Coyote. It was something equally as unusual and unreal. Coyote and his friend, who is very impressed with my driving skills, lead us down a path to the beach, where a bonfire is blazing and a DJ has beat our DJ to the punch and assembled his turntables and subwoofers beneath a canopy. The night is outrunning us.
Dawn: I feel pure, exhilarating, juvenile terror when I’m caught converting a hidden public-ish space into a desperately needed lavatory. How public is any space at 5 a.m.? I guess all bets are off on New Year’s.
We manage to wrangle everyone back into the bus shortly thereafter. Keen to flee the scene, I resume my post as driver.
6:30 a.m.: Home safe.
10:30 a.m.: Rise and shine. Omelet. TV. Iced coffee (hold the ice cream and the cream) at the usual. I note, while I sip, that Kirra is breaking across the street. I surf for almost as long as I slept. I come home and watch Bondi Rescue.
First light: New Year’s Day proper. The clementine burst over Point Danger is a stunning and painful reminder that I should always carry sunnies–even when I leave the house at night.
You just never know.