December 31, 2013
I found my way to Darling Harbour, and stopped in the King’s Brewhouse to meet up with my buddy Rob for an ice cold pint. He works this evening, so I am spending New Years on my own, but we made plans to meet up later. After midnight, I would come back to Darling Harbour, find wifi, and we would meet up.
I left the bar and began my wander over to the Sydney Opera House. Finding out there were 2.6 million people already lining the entirety of Sydney Harbour should have been the first clue: that was the last time I would see Rob today. I shuffled past millions (literally) of people, and found myself in the centre of a parking lot, turned picnic area. Over the loudspeaker I heard an announcement telling us that the section we were in was now at capacity, and nobody else is allowed in. I began to scope the area. My plan was to find an empty space among the throngs, and just sit myself down next to some nice looking people. The criteria was easy; youngish. And then I found them! Three young ladies, indiscreetly drinking wine, sitting next to a big empty space, on the other side of which, were three handsome and very tanned young men, doing an even worse job of concealing their wine! I asked the girls if I could join them, and they allowed it. We began chatting. The men on my other side realized we were all backpackers and joined our conversation. Our group was so wonderful. Two ladies from Sweden, one from Spain, a Dutch guy, two boys from France, and a Canadian!
40 minutes to go…
We all had alcohol in our bags and were all doing a laughable job of concealing it. We continued to drink and get to know each other. The conversation we had was entertaining to say the least. Someone would say something that was super witty and funny, but nobody would really laugh. So, they would have to explain what they meant. It was lovely. The five different first languages, the noise from the millions (literally) of people around us, and the irresponsible amount of wine we had all drunk up to this point, didn’t really help the conversations.
25 minutes to go…
I went to a stand nearby and bought a few light up toys. They were light up swords, and were exactly what our wine-saturated group needed. There was a little boy nearby our blanket, who was also wielding a light up sword. I challenged him to a duel. We combatted our swords like proper knights, and when he sliced my side with his light, I made a huge scene as I died. The people around us cheered and laughed. The two French guys grabbed their swords and attacked with a vengeance. The little boy sliced them, and they too, acted out excessive death scenes. The crowd around us went wild. The boy bowed, sheathed his blade, and walked back to his mom.
10 minutes to go…
The noise around us grew. The once empty spaces in the crowd had now filled up, people were almost yelling to hear each other, and I could hear a lot more drunken singing in the distance. The loudspeakers began to play music. All of a sudden, the crowd joined in the countdown, 10…9…8…7…6… I looked around at my new friends, drunkenly counting down, swaying back and forth, faces to the sky…5…4…3…2… My face began to hurt from smiling so much. Tears of joy began to well up in my eyes…1… Oh. My. God. The fireworks lit up the sky. Everywhere were fireworks. Everywhere. I looked on in amazement, and childlike joy. There were seven different points from which the fireworks were being lit. In front of me was a full 180 degrees of colour and explosions and magic. I couldn’t believe the beauty. I looked on with wonder. As the blasts echoed off the buildings behind us, and around the Harbour, the crowd burst into song. There I was, in the midst of 2.6 million people singing Auld Lang Syne.
Happy New Years, world!