In Within a Budding Grove (À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs), the second volume of Marcel Proust’s novel, In Search of Lost Time, the young narrator describes his disillusionment with New Years Day and the moment he discovers that “New Years Day was not a day different from the rest… it’s not the first day of a new world.”
Here Proust’s narrator begins to see that time passes indifferently. The future does not magically open up on New Years Day; there is no break in the calendar. There is only the unheeding fluidity of the old days and years that, unknown to the Years themselves, we choose to invest with a different name each January in our attempt to shape and modify them to suit us. Proust writes:
“I returned home. I had just spent the New Year’s Day of old men, who differ on that day from their juniors, not because people have ceased to give them presents but because they themselves have ceased to believe in the New Year.”
For Proust, loss in the belief in New Years is a loss of hope.
So, as the year come to a close (a random demarcation in the fluidity of days or not) the Gay Groom is spending some time looking back over the past 364.25 days and pondering his successes and (shall we say) non-successes of 2014.
There were many grand moments.
My novel, Shirts and Skins, continues to do well. I did a number of readings and signing including a couple in Provincetown, Montreal, Palm Springs and my first in my Hometown. I also met a lot of great people who connected with the novel. I was also short-listed for a Hamilton Literary Arts Award for the novel which was very exiting (for a first time novelist). I went on a cruise in January to see the Caribbean for the first time. I also launched my website jeffreyluscombe.com and started on my second novel which I hope to have finished in the first half of 2014.
And there were less than grand moments.
I did not win the aforementioned award I was short-listed for, my father is still battling Multiple Myeloma and we have had a couple of bad events through the year though he seems to be better right now, the husband had an operation on his knee which took months of recuperation. Early in the year my asthma was out of control but with some extra medication I was able to get it in check by the end of summer.
“But”, Proust may have asked if he were to drop by this New Years Eve, “does the Gay Groom still believe in New Years? Or will he have the New Years of old men.”
“Well, Marcel,” I’d say as I handed him a cognac, “believe isn’t quite the right word. Instead, I choose to accept the contrived and artificial demarcation of New Years. Let’s call it a ‘New Years of mature men'”.
I choose to accept New Years because I hope.
And aren’t all those fresh pages in my new red 2014 journal (which one day will prove to be a most scandalous memoir) 364 pages of lined hope?
At the end of Proust’s enormous novel, when his narrator (after squandering year after year of his life and writing potential on frivolous society parties and obsessive love) suddenly discovers that death is imminent, is overcome with the need to write. In writing, the narrator regains time by folding time – and himself – into the pages of the book.
And on that note, your humble blogger signs off for the year.
The story continues…
Happy New Year!
Jeffrey, The Gay Groom