At midnight on Monday, it became a new year.
I typically get sentimental and introspective around the new year, and as is customary, my best friend queued up Julie Andrews’ version of “Auld Lang Syne” right at midnight, and, as the clock turned over, the small crew gathered around my dining room table sipped champagne and whooped and yelled and smooched one another (where appropriate). It was too cold to go out. And, we all get a little older every year, and our celebrations get a little more low-key.
There wasn’t much introspection left in me as the clock struck 12 and 2017 became 2018. It was mostly another midnight.
I remembered feeling such promise in previous years at the beginning of each year. I remembered one year, spending New Year’s midnight at a bar, when I watched two men angle to be closest to my friend at midnight for that customary good-luck kiss. I stood at the bar and sipped a beer, as my then-boyfriend snoozed at home at the couch, already too old to brave the bars on New Year’s back then. I chuckled, thinking of how confident young men can be, especially during winter holidays.
For some reason, at midnight this year, I thought about all the big news stories of 2017, how we — and other news organizations — had counted them down in the days leading up to the holiday, as if we were putting them to bed.
At the top of every national news story list, it seemed, was the sexual harassment scandal that spread like a virus among professional sectors ‘round the world in the latter part of the year. The Harvey Weinstein revelations were the first domino to be kicked over by a couple of brave women, and the rest fell in rapid succession. Somewhere in the final days of December I’d seen a list of men whose careers had been ruined by sexual harassment and assault allegations. They’d certainly been put to bed by 2017, but I know their antics haven't been. The women who came forward in 2017 have no doubt inspired many more women, and we will continue to hear stories like theirs in the years to come. It was the biggest story of 2017, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to be the biggest story of the next few years.
2018 promises to be an interesting one in politics. The midterm elections are here, and the tenure of the GOP-led Congress, now with a GOP-led White House, will be tested. Political pundits predict 2018 will be a banner year for women in politics, with a great uprising coming from the women scorned by Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016. When it seemed at times last year that every male politician had committed some terrible sexual offense against a woman somewhere along the line, I couldn’t help but think — women will replace them. But defeats of years past creep in — it’s a new year, but I feel doubt about whether we, as a society, are turning a new leaf.
2017 had some incredible personal and professional highlights, but on the whole, it was a tough one. There were many nights I came home late and my partner could tell I was in an abyss — mass shootings, sexual assaults, partisan bickering — in Washington and here at home, in our comments section — all these things weighed on me heavily at times. And they will continue to do so. None of those things are magically disappearing with the turn of the calendar page.
I usually create a yearlong to-do list at the beginning of every year. This year, the items aren’t so grand as years past. After all, the carpet still lays on the floor of our guest room, and restoring the wood floor beneath was on the 2016 and 2017 lists.
But I realized as I looked at the items on previous years' to-do lists that this was the year I finally checked off one item that first appeared on 2016’s list — “let fear float by.” It was a phrase I had found in some book somewhere — or, maybe it was a magazine article? — at least three years ago, judging by the time the list was written, about acknowledging anxieties but deciding not to let them control you.
We don’t always check the items off the list in a linear way, it seems.
ALEE QUICK is digital editor of The Southern. Her columns include her own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinion or editorial position of The Southern. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-351-5807. Follow her on Twitter: @the_quickness