| canals (masculine plural noun) | /kano/

I have stopped believing that a simple calendar day can change anything. I have stopped making New Year’s resolutions. If I want to change something, I do it. I don’t care if it’s January 1st or July 15th. Like a child whose faith in Santa Claus diminishes as he ages, the magic of January 1st has started to fade for me as well.

I spent New Year’s in Amsterdam with one of my close friends. It was our second time visiting the city, so we had already toured the famous sites and museums. Instead, we spent our days riding bikes, visiting coffeeshops, cooking, and drinking beer. We spent New Year’s Eve wandering around the city by bike. He’s been riding bikes for years. Me? I would never describe myself as athletic or graceful, so bike-riding in a crowded city was overwhelming. Gripping handlebars and dodging tourists, we wove through traffic and cobblestone streets. I felt stupid for falling behind at red lights or sharp turns.

We were on our way home when I lost sight of my friend in the city center. It was dark and crowded, the streets swarming with people. Neon lights flashed and reflected on the canals’ black waters. According to Dutch tradition, people were setting off firecrackers in the streets. Intermittent explosions elicited screams and laughter. I couldn’t breathe. I stopped by the canal and wept. I couldn’t breathe. In times of crisis, I have the ability to think objectively, to find a solution. But my brain was stunted, and I couldn’t breathe. What was wrong with me? I usually love being surrounded by people. Dear God, I wish I could shirk these emotions like dew that slips from a flower petal. I wish I could not care, laugh, say, “Fuck it.” But that’s not me. That’s not me.

My friend found me minutes later, calmed me, and we rode home. But not without me crashing into an angry Dutch couple and inciting hysterical laughter from a car full of drunken teenagers.

At midnight, we stood on our balcony. We wrapped ourselves in a blanket; my bare feet were cold against the concrete. Fireworks exploded all around us. No matter where we turned, the sky exploded with color. 2016 doesn’t feel different in any way. I am trying to find meaning where there isn’t any. Or perhaps I’m waiting, wishing for that one moment that will wake me up or swallow me whole.


About Gabriella

I'm a twenty-something insomniac with a caffeine addiction and chronic wanderlust. I recently graduated with my M.A. in French, and I've spent the past two years living and working as an English teacher in France. I now work as an English professor at a university in Lille, where my students are learning to never omit the Oxford comma.
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