Adette makes a resolution to stop comparing the coming year to the last. She decides to let go of her fears, her insecurities, her bitterness about the past that came before him and the past that happened with him. Despite this, Adette can't help but think back to the year before. Her happiness to kiss him at midnight (and before it, and after it) had been overshadowed by the fear that he wanted something casual, that he'd get bored with her once they both left Aspen. But last year was last year, and this year is this year. Adette resolves that she will and can trust him and in herself, that in the end, they will have more happy, certain days together than not. They are simply at the tipping point of that balance.
What she likes most about their artificially selected anniversary day is that it is happily nestled between Christmas and New Year's. It means they have a religious and bank holiday excuse to be together, buffered by a romantic excuse to escape any familial obligations they might have. It means the warmth, the hopefulness, and blissfulness of the season extends into their relationship, highlighting and accentuating her gratitude for his place in her life.
As Adette looks up at him, she thinks she could spend a lifetime alone with him. She knows he will always be enough, no matter where they go or who they meet. Even as her heart feels too full, there is always more that she can feel for him. She trails fingers along his skin, and fights the urge to pull him away and skip all the festivities altogether.
"I love you," she whispers, the words lost amongst the sounds of the bar and the people that surround them. She clings to Oliver, comforted by the warmth of his arms around her, the knowing of his presence.
When they spend their first Christmas together, she's surprised by how much she enjoys it, which seems silly because why wouldn't she? Oliver, who spent most of the holidays she's known him flying away from everyone, wants to be with her, and despite the tensions that plagued them for most of the month, they end up okay. Better than okay. They open presents together and laugh over the silly things they've done for one another. They roast marshmallows over the firepit and decorate one another in garland and lights. But it's the look that he gives her that makes her sure that there is no better way to spend Christmas.
She wonders if she can pick a favorite memory of him. Maybe it's the first time they fell asleep together on his couch, content with liquor and fries. Maybe it's way he gets concerned when she's sick in another country. Maybe it's Coachella, the way they were inseparable before they truly understood what it meant to be inseparable from the other. Maybe it's the time they were engaged in vicious marshmallow warfare, still navigating the boundaries of their evolving friendship. Maybe it's whenever she wakes up beside him or the way he tries to learn Korean even when he claims he's a terrible student. Maybe she has too many favorites.
It's a miracle they survived this long without one another, she thinks. Since they met, she's felt more complete than she's ever been before. Even as friends, Oliver has always felt like coming home, like finding a piece of herself she didn't know was missing. The need for him crept up on her, surprised her when she wasn't paying attention.
She's giddy and the smile that creeps across her face feels permanent. It's the champagne, she tells herself, she's probably had too much and the fireworks haven't even gone off yet. But any stranger can see by the way they've been sneaking looks at each other that it isn't the alcohol. It is most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, love. The sparkling, novel kind of love, the magnetic, endlessly insatiable kind of love, the comfortable, thorough, grow old together kind of love.
When they're seventy, eighty years old, Adette envisions them living in a home that sprawls more in outdoor space than in concrete. Space for his beloved hammock, an outdoor pool for her surrounded by trees for the illusion of privacy. She entertains the idea of a large wall-length aquarium. They would have heated floors just about everywhere; she'd get him to agree and after the first ten years of complaining, he'd adapt and soon come to expected heated floors everywhere. She'd compromise and probably be required to hang a Mets pennant above their bed. Freed from the cares of the media and the public, retired from their careers, they'd finally be free to be perfectly ordinary together.
Happiness has always been elusive, or more accurately, it has always been fleeting. The ebb and flow, the withdrawal of that happiness -- that's the part Adette handles the worst. She expects it. She's learning not to expect it any more and the journey has been rough, full of bumps and stalls. Despite this, she has been happier with Oliver than she can remember. As the crowd's emotions swell with expectation for the new year, she only has eyes for him and what is in store for them in 2017. Everyone else might as well not exist as far as she's concerned.
a new year
At the end of the count, their lips meet greedily. It takes all of her self-control to remember they aren't alone, and she pities that fact. But lost in the cheers and the chaos of people and champagne and celebration, Adette turns back to Oliver and plunges him into another dizzying, intoxicating kiss. They greet the new year the way they will meet every new year going forward: together with certainty and with optimism.