December 31, 2018. With only one minute to go before midnight, the band is pumping everyone up with their music. I grab cocktails for my parents and a mocktail for me, hurrying to our table to get ready for the countdown. 2018 was one of the best years of my life, and ending it with the cool wind blowing through my hair, my favorite songs being performed on stage, and just being in the moment with my dad, mom, and brother was the perfect conclusion to a great year, and the perfect start to a brand new one.

As the countdown begins, “Ten, nine, eight…,” I feel a bubble of excitement in my stomach. I’m pumped and looking forward to a new year like I never have before. “Seven, six…” There are so many possibilities for 2019! All the adventures! The experiences! The fun! “Five, four…” I look around the table at the faces of my family. We’re all smiling, the energy and promise of the night getting into everybody. “Three, two, ONE!” I raise my face to the sky, the fireworks lighting up the night and the grins on everyone’s faces. “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

January 1, 2018, erm, 2019. The sun is already up and shining brightly when we wake up late. We laze around and take our time doing anything because, hey, it’s a new year, and what better way to kick it off than by spending the day in pajamas? The sound effects from my brother’s computer game and the dialogue from one of the Avengers movies playing on the TV serve as background noise as we all relax and prepare ourselves to head back to reality the next day. Might as well enjoy the quiet before the awesome, amazing new adventures start to happen. Homework due soon? Eh, I’ll do it tomorrow.

Paper, I need to write? I’ll do it tomorrow. What about the — TOMORROW! January 1 is time to celebrate being alive for another year! Another year of opportunities and experiences waiting around the corner!

Things can go back to normal tomorrow. For now, I’ll be reminiscing about my awesome 2018. I sink into my pillows and let out a sigh as Iron Man tries to knock out the Hulk on the TV. 2018 was such a great year.

January 2, 2019. Freddie Mercury’s voice fills the room as I embark on my mission. I need to get the year started right: by cleaning out my stuff. I haul an empty box nearer beside me as I go through my things, dumping away the trash and keeping the nostalgic junk. I keep the tickets and the souvenir programs of the amazing productions I saw this year, I organize the tiny squishies and knick-knacks my friends gave me, and I dust off a hand-me-down typewriter. Goodbye to my magazine cut-outs during my scrapbooking phase, goodbye to the weird smelling lip balm I never threw away because of saying “sayang naman.”

It’s time for a fresh start! Dried up stickers, crumpled up notes, bad vibes, and empty paint bottles are on their way out of here. New novels, fresh notebooks, good memories, and scrapbook photos are put in their proper places, kept close.

As I put the finishing touches on my freshly organized space, I open up a planner I got as a gift and look through the dates. My birthday falls on a Saturday, and it’s coming up real soon.

January 3, 2019. I casually pace around our house, nonchalantly going through an identity crisis or something similar. The questions in my head are, “What am I doing?” “After this, what then?” “Who am I?” “Why is it so complicated?” “Is that even the right decision?” “I can handle it! Right?” This struggle was triggered by the “So what course are you taking?” question that a lot of well-meaning adults like to ask poor, confused teenagers on the brink of a breakdown over their future. I march to the kitchen where my mom is making dinner. I’m supposed to be helping her, but instead, I’m ranting.

“I don’t have much time left.”

“For what?”

“For being a kid! I’m turning 16, ma!”

“16 is still young naman eh.”

“Yeah, too young to have to be dealing with college plans and tracks and future stuff! Time is going too fast!”

My mom takes a deep breath as I go through all the factors in my life that are driving me crazy. “Here we go again.” I let it all out. In a world of countless choices and multiple paths to take, life can lead you anywhere, and I want to make sure it’s the right place. What if this, what if that, what my peers are doing, what they’re not doing. I’m still rambling as my brother and I set the table. He just gives me a weird look and says nothing (my brother’s the best. He’ll be going through all this drama soon enough).

My family casually continues to eat dinner, while listening to my rant.  They offer tiny bits of consolation. Eventually, I run out of things to be sad about and quietly eat my spaghetti and roasted chicken. Frustration eventually fizzling out, and food getting into my stomach, I get hyper all of a sudden.

“You know what? I can do it! Kaya ko to! I will get into Senior High, I will get into college, and I’ll make 2019 the BEST YEAR EVER!” I settle down and continue eating, only with much more enthusiasm. “Ang sarap naman to! What the heck? Ma, this is so good!” Small laughs are shared between my parents and order is restored to the dinner table as we continue on with our night like nothing happened.

January 4, 2019. “So, about my birthday. I was thinking…karaoke?”

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