I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year on the sand, despite spending so many New Years so close by. The beach at midnight always seemed strangely ominous, too likely to be full of rowdy teens and ill-advised bonfires. But my cousins decided we should go to the beach, so to the beach we went.
We made cocktails in jars – dumping fizzy wine and juice and berries into mum’s collection of old glass jars saved from sauces and jams and peanut butter. We each picked our own sized jar, made our own concoction. We carried them to the beach, clinking gently in a tote bag.
Along the sand were groups, clustered in the dark. They peered at us as we walked past, not sure if they knew us. More than once, we’ve encountered another group while wandering the streets of this seaside town at night and discovered we do have some connection. It’s a small world, even smaller in place like this. We are just another group of giggling young people, anonymous and familiar in the dark.
We claimed our own little section of beach, nestled our jars carefully into the sand. We talked about our goals for the new year and happy things from the year that was almost over. We paddled in the dark ocean. We played music – oddly quiet against the murmur of the waves – and danced and sang on the cool sand.
The police drove laps, their lights looping around the headland and down the distant road before piercing the night across the sand. Their laps were like a kind of clock, rhythmic and constant.
The moon was huge and looming and I was glad to be there with the moon and the ocean. It was strangely comforting to find a new moment in this deeply familiar place.