4:30 pm on December 31st, 2013. If I was in New York, this would be around the time I roll-out of bed. I’d pull out the sparkly gold Louboutins. Steam the little black dress. My breakfast, bubbly, as the best way to neutralize the haze from the pre-New Year’s Eve celebratory champagne binge, is of course, with more champagne.
I’d pull my hair up in a messy bun. Head to my favorite cobblers (Elite on 10th behind the church is first choice and if it’s too crowded, Hector’s across the way on Greenwich is my second, if anyone from NYC is reading). I would pay the $5 for protective coating on the gold heels, and a new sole protector for the bright red bottom — sorry, the pricing is family pricing, as I’ve been going to them for ages and give them Christmas tips. The over-priced heels will now stay pristine, even when they get covered by the spilled drinks, or drenched if it rains or snows. The coating may protect the shoes, even if they are vomited on.
On 6th, I would hail a cab, head to Paul Labrecque on 55th b/w Park and Madison for a blow-out. Paul Labrecque is over-priced. Way over-priced. But I don’t care. It’s for New Year’s Eve… which is just another occasion in Manhattan to spend over budget.
I’d cab back downtown, gussy myself up, and by 10 pm be out the door for some cocktails and dinner with girlfriends. Sushi. Or ABC Kitchen. Blue Ribbon? Possibly NoMad or maybe Bohemian. Nah - not the latter. We want to go where we can be seen.
Around 11:30 pm, we would head to whatever bar-club-venue for the countdown. Drink and drink then drink some more. Usually until we can see the sun. Eat breakfast in our non-6am attire. Do the walk of shame home.
This was my routine when I lived in the US. Except the restaurants, salon, NYE venue would be different but always, dressing up, drinking, dancing — partying — until the sun came up.
16:30, December 31st, 2013 in Fukuoka, Japan. I am sitting in a coffee shop to ensure I don’t miss my connection to the next destination of my ‘Epic Trip 2013’.
I am surrounded by families and couples and groups of friends. Most are carrying massive bags filled with omiyage (souvenirs) of food or snacks or perhaps both, to bring to where they will be spending New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve in Japan is a peaceful affair — like Christmas night in America. You spend time with loved ones, a low-key night inside. You watch TV and drink beer, eat toshikoshi soba then when the clock strikes midnight, you might drink nigori sake. Or if you choose to leave your home, you go to the nearest temple for Hatsumode.1
I will be welcoming 2014 in a way I haven’t since I hit 21, or maybe 18? Who decided partying on the 31st is the way to welcome a new year anyway?
I can’t recall the last time I was in Japan for the new year. But there isn’t a place in the world I’d rather be right now — mentally, spiritually, and physically.
Maybe I’m getting old.
Above photo taken earlier at Kushida Shrine in Hakata, Fukuoka. Founded in 757 (!!!)