2003 was a good year.

I bought my first condo in Chicago – a 1500 square foot vintage place with bay windows and two fireplaces that was love at first sight. I made my second trip to Europe, going to Barcelona, Madrid and Ibiza in July. I enjoyed the Cubs’ run through the playoffs, flying to Florida on a whim to catch games four and five of the National League Championship Series. I was starting to thrive as a lawyer at a big law firm – after all, the whole reason I felt comfortable buying a condo was because I was confident I would stay where I was at for a long time. I was on the partnership track and I relished it. And then I wrapped up 2003 with a trip to New Orleans with three of my best girlfriends at the time. It remains one of the best New Year’s Eves I have ever had (and ironically, I have absolutely no pictures left from that trip; they have disappeared).

New Year’s Eve since 2003 has ranged from slightly miserable to completely horrible to somewhat bearable to mildly entertaining.

In 2004, a friend from law school came to visit and a group of us went to some fancy hotel party downtown. At some point, I am 99% sure that someone spiked my drink as I went from almost completely sober to falling over drunk within minutes – before we ever got to midnight. What made it worse was that none of my alleged friends at the time seemed to care. At best, they thought it was mildly hilarious that I could barely stand. Luckily, the friend from out of town who was staying with me stayed by my side and got me home, but things were never quite the same with those friends. They couldn’t understand why I was so upset in the days that followed and it made me realize that perhaps they really didn’t get me as much as I thought.

In 2005, I hosted a party at my condo, which in many ways was fabulous. I love hosting and I didn’t have to deal with crowds or bad weather or catching a taxi or wearing high heels. I hit it off with a friend of a friend and was having a great time until a guy that I previously dated decided to show up. And I had to choose between the two guys. To make a long story short, I chose wrong and ended up with neither. Both are now married to other women (which means that really, neither were meant to be with me anyway), but that night still occasionally haunts me. (oh, and I was also in the middle of my brunette phase, as you can see in the picture below).

In 2007, I was suffering from a broken heart and tried to corral a group of friends into having a New Year’s Eve dinner at Café Babareeba. It snowed the entire night, several people bailed at the last minute and those who did come halfheartedly stuck around until midnight. I spent the whole night hoping to hear from the guy who broke my heart and I am pretty sure I went home and cried.

In 2009, I was in Prague! One of the better New Year’s celebrations in the last ten years, I was on a Contiki tour and we rang in 2010 with fireworks at a concert in the main square. Then we dodged dozens of homemade fireworks being set off throughout the city as we tried to get to some nightclub, which ended up being almost empty. It was a bit of a letdown, but I at least got a New Year’s kiss from a cute Tasmanian boy (who kind of stalked me the rest of the tour, but that’s another story for another day…)

2010 was just bad. Feeling like I would be lame if I stayed in, I ended up at a bar party with three couples and one single guy who I had no interest in whatsoever. To make a long story short, I left just after midnight in tears.

I spent 2011 watching fireworks from my hotel room in Warsaw. After originally planning to spend the holiday in Krakow, I decided to stay in Warsaw when the celebration I had wanted to attend in Krakow was cancelled. The weather in Warsaw that night was kind of gross, so while I could have gone out to an outdoor concert and fireworks, I decided to just stay in and relax. It was probably one of the most enjoyable New Year’s Eves I have spent as I finally let go of the notion that I had to do something cool since I was overseas.

And last year…the end of 2012 had me in limbo as my job search was winding down but I hadn’t yet accepted an offer. I decided to stay in Minnesota, which meant hanging out at my parents’ house watching Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on CNN’s New Year’s telecast. Freakin’ hilarious. I laughed out loud several times and didn’t even care that I was being “lame” and staying in.

Which is why I will be doing the same thing tonight.

And then I’ll wake up tomorrow, without a hangover or tired feet or puffy eyes or, most importantly, any regrets. I’ll go for a run, eat a good breakfast, settle in to watch some football and look forward to whatever 2014 will bring.

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