I know I wrote my thoughts on Christmas not so long ago but strangely I didn't end up feeling sad or homesick during Christmas at all... However, last night I felt really homesick for Sydney because of our great fireworks show. Due to the timezone (GMT+10 or GMT+11 in daylight savings time) it's the first major city to experience the new year so it's always in the news.
I felt kinda sad being stuck in a small town with no festivities and I was hoping I'd get invited to something.. but nope, nothing. I was disappointed but not overly sad. I texted my French friends both in town and out of town and wished them a Happy New Year. I got quite a few in return too.
At around 9pm I was getting frustrated that I had nothing planned and nothing to do and noone to spend it with. However, I just told myself it's no big deal. Just a change in a calendar date anyway. I had a really nice NYE last year watching the fireworks from the front yard of my sister's apartment block (which has such a perfect view that there are police and security guards surrounding her street and don't allow anyone but residents and their guests to enter). And you have to get your car in by a certain time before all the streets are closed off to cars too.
There are usually around a million people who watch the fireworks (500,000 on each side of the harbour) and it's a big Sydney ritual. In the past 15 years I have only missed a few. Mostly because I was overseas. The 1999 ones were particularly memorable because of the upcoming 2000 Olympic Games and they had lit up sea creatures floating along the harbour which was delightful. Those that don't watch it for real watch the live telecast on tv or can hear it (+ commentary or soundtrack) on the radio.
I could go on and on (as I've seen so many now) but the main point is that for the first time in ages I felt really really homesick and missed my city and my family and friends, dammit!
I also remember fondly last year on New Year's day I walked around Luna Park with my sister and her boyfriend. It was so much fun and this timely blog post (with its beautiful photos) certainly brought back memories for me! I think I wrote about that "52 suburbs" blog before on here. It certainly makes me appreciate and miss Sydney more!
Since Sydney is 10 hours ahead of France I could see all the Facebook status updates and photos (and later even videos) of the fireworks and festivities.
One of my friends did invite me to spend NYE in Lyon but I was just too tired from all that travelling to do anymore.
I wanted to speak to someone I knew, anyone, through Skype but nobody was online. I got over the fact that I was going to do absolutely nothing for NYE and not even be upset by it but I did not want to spend it alone. I just had to speak to someone! Everyone I knew were either asleep or busy etc... So I decided to find a random stranger to speak to on Skype.
I went to one of the language exchange websites I've used before (italki) and sent out a handful of messages, hoping someone was online. Eventually somebody replied to my request and it turned out to be really good fun (well as much fun as one can have alone in a tiny room with nothing but a computer and an internet connection ;) )
We started 'speaking' at around 9:45pm and then lasted until almost 2am! We could've gone on longer but I really wanted to go to bed. We got along really really well and he was really funny as well. He was alone too on NYE (and didn't think it was a big deal either). We never did a video chat (as I was not in the mood to be 'seen' with my messy hair and in my daggy pjs, etc) but spent ages talking (typing) on Skype. I simultaneously had wordreference.com and google.com opened so I could quickly translate any word he typed that I did not understand. It's really a great way to learn more vocabulary. I offered to talk in English too (for his benefit) but he said he was too tired at that late hour to think in English so I got to practise French heaps!
I was saying to this guy that I wouldn't even know when midnight was (because all the times I have on my computer/watch/phone are different) and that there would be no firecrackers or fireworks here but to my surprise there were some! I could not see them but I could hear them. I already knew the word for fireworks (feu d'artifice) but I also learnt a new word, firecrackers (petards).
Then, I was lying in bed almost asleep when I got a text message at around 2:30am. It was from one of the people I had Couchsurfed with about 2 months ago who wished me a Bonne Année and he said that he'd like to invite me back to his town/place! which was really nice. I didn't actually think he was over-the-top friendly towards me at the time (I mean he was nice but nothing to write home about) so this really surprised me.
I hope you had a lovely NYE wherever you are!
Here are 2 videos from last night's Sydney NYE 2010/2011 fireworks:
(Photo by Sacharules/Flickr)