New Year’s Eve has a very special place in my heart.
While the rest of the world might be celebrating the demise of the old year and relishing the chance to wake up with a clean slate on Jan 1st, New Year’s Eve, Geoff and I met on New Year’s Eve sixteen years ago. It’s our anniversary. That means I can honestly say that when we met, there really were literally fireworks!
Much younger versions of our current selves met at a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve Party held in Wollstonecraft on Sydney’s North Shore. The apartment was perched on the edge of one of the hills overlooking the Harbour and of course, we were all there to watch the spectacular fireworks from our privileged bird’s-eye view. This was special.After all, Sydney’s NYE fireworks are up there on the world stage: Sydney, London, Paris, Time Square…only we beat them all to it!!
However,I do have a small confession about the view. We might have had front-row seats but we had what you’d describe as a “back-end view” of the Bridge and we were actually looking at the main fireworks display from behind. There was also a block of units somewhat in the way as well, which the inconsiderate sods didn’t relocate for the night. That said, we did have a very expansive view of the Sydney right out towards Parramatta and we could see all sorts of other locations “going off”. It wasn’t quite as good as being in the chopper but we had it exceptionally good
That said, we wouldn’t have knocked back tickets to the Lord Mayor’s VIP bash right there on the Harbour and actually facing the Bridge. Who would?!!
Being a young 20 something, there was definitely no way we’d ever stay home and watch the fireworks on TV. That was the sort of social suicide reserved for the likes of “Nigel No-Friends” and we weren’t going to be one of them. No way!
However, another option for viewing the fireworks was joining the mosh pit of bodies under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At this point, I’ll remind you that it’s now summer in Sydney. It can get very, very hot in Sydney on NYE. No snow. Definitely no snow but lot’s of sweat.
Personally, I’ve never been game to go under the Bridge.
At the close of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, a group of us ended up in the city looking for a vantage point to see those fireworks. There were hordes of people choking up the streets all desperate for some kind, any kind of vantage point. I still remember our sense of desperation. Where could we go? What was left? Of course, the well-planned amongst us had been camping out for days and we were last minute optimists, cuckoos out to land in someone’s nest. Fortunately, I’d photographed the Wharf Theatre and had a lateral moment and we found a largely unpopulated vantage point down there only metres away from where fireworks were being let off. In our usual style, we were seeing the back-end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge but otherwise had a great, uncluttered spot. That was our moment photographing the fireworks with our legs dangling off the wharf indulging in cheese and champagne. It was incredible! A moment we’ll never forget.
Geoff and I walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Sydney 2000 Olympics
Life has taken many twists and turns since then.
Anyway, those hordes haven’t encouraged me to try our luck under the Bridge.
Perhaps, everybody is just charmingly friendly as they crush each others’ feet in the general stompage but we all know what it’s like when some stranger dares stand on someone else’s rug. That’s right. Their precious square of turf which they’ve been viciously defending like a magpie for days, camping out under a very harsh, unforgiving sun knowing they’ll be straight off to the skin cancer clinic straight afterwards. Somehow, in the cruel aftermath, it’s all considered worth it but you’ve got to wonder!
Shame about the broken bones and it wasn’t good news for the altitudinally-challenged either, spending NYE with their nose shoved in some stinky stranger’s armpit. Humph…Happy New Year!
I’m sure those moshers under the Bridge would’ve done anything to have our back-end view.
Yes! We knew we had it good!
Of course, I had no idea I was about to meet my future husband when I knocked on the same door I’d knocked on many times before. That couldn’t have been further from my mind, which I must admit was rather exceptional. You see, up until that freakish moment in time, I’d had a “proactive” approach towards looking out for Mr Right. I actually had a huge, fine-tuned antenna stuck on the top of my head. Moreover, I was also known as a notorious (but quite successful) matchmaker. Indeed, I could have stuck a plaque outside my place and I would have done a roaring trade…especially if I’d known a few more girls. I had a lot of male friends who kept turning up to parties doused in optimistic aftershave only to be let down once again by a severe gender imbalance.
Anyway, as I said, I wasn’t looking to meet anybody that night. As incredulous as that might sound, I’d just been unceremoniously dumped and I was in rough shape. Guttered and yet, at the same time…a survivor. I went off to this party with one New Year’s resolution and one resolution only: “No Nick 1999!”.
That’s probably the only NY resolution I’ve ever pulled off.
Well, chatting away with Geoff watching the fireworks that night, he gave me some excellent advice: “Just be friends. Take time to get to know someone.” That was the general gist of it all but it all sounded rather profound at the time and I really took it to heart. I went off to another party later that announced that great advice. Well, you know how it is. Love and romance can creep up on even the most unsuspecting of characters. We met up at a few social things with our mutual friend and somehow that led to email which then resulted in some comment about: “You know you can pop over” and an invitation to join him and his niece to visit Taronga Zoo. All I can really remember about that is feeding carrots to the giraffes and by this stage that finely tuned antenna of mine was working overtime. I must admit that I was now concerned about his so-called “good advice”. How on earth we were ever going to shift gears out of friendship into something else but I guess that’s where Cupid steps in.
Geoff and I not long after we’d met photographed in his Austin Healey Sprite…not so romantic when it rains!
In retrospect, meeting Geoff was one of life’s serendipitous, “meant to be” moments where God and fate intervened and a whole heap of incidentals all lined up and for just once in a lifetime, didn’t conspire against us. I almost didn’t end up going to that party after being dumped that afternoon. However, my friend had only invited a select few to watch the fireworks and I didn’t want to let her down. Besides, she knows how to throw a party and was renowned for her vodka jellies and chocolate mouse. We are turning back the clock to another, very different lifetime but I do have photos of a friend dancing with a bunch of flowers after partaking of these legendary vodka jellies.
However, this party seemed relatively quiet and I do remember standing out on the balcony photographing the fireworks, albeit from our quirky backend perspective and talking about photography with Geoff. He was interested in photography…tick. He also drove a green sportscar and that sounded very romantic even though he warned me straight away that she was 30 something English and temperamental. There was something about water and leaks in the conversation that I only really came to appreciate drive up to Byron Bay during particularly heavy rain while we were both wearing raincoats. That is, inside the car!! Yes, we were still wet.
Watching NYE on TV with my broken foot. Not quite what it used to be but at least I’ve found love.
Fast forwarding right along to 2014, New Year’s Eve doesn’t quite have the same air of possibility or wild excitement that it used to. No Vodka jellies or chocolate mouse although we managed to organise going over to a friend’s place with all the kids to watch the fireworks on TV and I’d made pavlova. That is what an exciting New Year’s Eve entails these days. To be honest, that’s even been an improvement on having to babysit two anxious dogs freaking out from the loud nasty banging fireworks or having babies to attend to.
Sadly, we’re quite used to watching the fireworks on TV these days although there is still that spark. That memory of… once upon a time.
The family together on New Year’s Eve.
So there we all were watching the fireworks on TV and I couldn’t resist. I had to take some photos. That’s right I was being incredibly daggy and photographing the fireworks on TV. Old habits die hard. Of course, they weren’t award winners and there was that sense of crazed desperation, which could also be called determination. An all conquering spirit which says never says die. I am who I am.
There is still a photographer and a party animal buried somewhere deep within my soul, which has somehow overcome the descent into middle-age, mortgage, kids, muscle-disease and lives on.
I will not be beaten.
Hence, I’m already making plans for next NYE. Somehow, I’d like our family to get down to Sydney. This is more of a wish than a resolution…along with getting to the Easter Show. Not always easy but we’ll at least try to find a way.
Perhaps, I should give the Sydney Lord Mayor a call…or maybe just friend her on Facebook. I wonder if that would be enough?!!
Happy New Year to you all!
Love and Blessings,
Rowena, Geoff, Mister,Miss, Bilbo & Lady xxoo
PS Bilbo and Lady report they were not impressed at being left home alone to fend for themselves against all those nasty loud banging noises. Lady ended up burying herself in the garage and once the humans were home bounced on mum’s lap. Many dogs end up “doing the Harold Holt” and get lost on NYE. Like a good Martini, though, we were shaken but not stirred.