A heart of doubt.

A new year approaches and so we make resolutions. Join a gym or at least go back to the one that we’ve been paying for and not using. Stop smoking, drink less alcohol, lose weight and be healthy, take up a new hobby, spend more time with family and friends, the list is almost endless. Those are all pretty common so you might choose things that are a bit more personal.

Answering yes to more questions, to more chances of experiencing new things. It’s easy to shut yourself off at times, to just be on your own but maybe intrinsically you know that you need to mix things up now and again. The word ‘Yes’ is a sentence, first resolution makes the list. Learning to say no to other things, it’s a failing if you’re trying to please everyone all of the time. The word ‘No’ is also a sentence, second one sorted. You can be a kind person with a good heart and still say no to people. You want to know when to say no when you need to, but also when you say yes, the people around you know that you mean it. Setting boundaries can be a good idea. Sometimes you need to let people in, to let new things in or to let some things go if they’re not making you happy. Three for three, that’ll do for now, baby steps, right?

You need some things, people you care about, that you love. Sometimes you find those people when you least expect to. You can just click with someone and know that you’re both going to get along, you don’t have to pretend to be anyone else or anything that you’re not. Sure, sometimes your relationship will be going great and at others, it’ll be a bit of a struggle.

Last night we were more than fine.

In the middle of checking into a hotel and whilst the process is taking place, I look around and see her sitting in the bar. She spots me stealing a momentary glance, I’m so busted, but I get a smile so naturally one is returned. I concentrate on the person sorting out my room though, being rude is no bueno. Key collected, bags unpacked and a much needed shower after a forty hour journey is welcome. A beer downstairs follows, she’s still there and we strike up a conversation. She’s friendly, but our time ends with that one drink. A couple of days go by and I don’t see her.

Walking around the city, I randomly bump into her a few days later, smiles and awkward hugs are exchanged and we go for a drink. It turns out we like a lot of the same things, she’s also into spicy food, tequila, travel and girls. I didn’t see that coming but I like hanging out with her so why not continue to do so, everyone has friends that they’re not into in a romantic way. We have another week in the same city and we spend a lot of time together, eating, drinking, exploring. The friendship is formed and it’s sad when she has to go home.

Sussing out the benefits of any relationship is down to no one else but yourself. You can be around someone initially that you think you’re attracted to, but as time progresses, the friendship takes over and those feelings fade. No romance is on the cards but wouldn’t you want to be friends with the kind of girl you’d believe if she told you that the earth was flat and that Skittles fell from the sky? Sometimes you just vibe with someone.

We’re in touch regularly and she’s super polite, always asking about family and friends, about what’s going on, generally just a cool human being. Do you ever have a friendship though that’s a one way street? You’re always the first person in touch, the quicker to reply.

You text me when you feel like, when it feels right to you.

Days, weeks, months pass and we’re cool though, we speak, we hang out when she’s here and when I’m anywhere near her. An invite is extended to bring in 2020 together with other friends, she accepts and a plan is made.

Her plane lands, I pick her up and nothing has changed, the chat is seamless, it’s like we’ve never been apart. Neither of us have girlfriends but only one of us is looking for one, first time being a wingman for a lady.

The last day of the year is here, food and drinks with friends, always good. The bells toll to bring in the new year, we hug as is the case with everyone else, but she kisses me hard and it takes more seconds than it should to pull away. Conversing becomes difficult as I shake my head and tell her that we can’t. I love her but I’m not in love with her. It’s probably something that would’ve never happened if it wasn’t for a shit ton of tequila. Not all common interests are good.

The pain on her face is almost palpable, those falling tears hurt even more, but it’s down to excess on a special night of the year. It’s hard to look at the ruin, but it’s harder still not to find beauty in her decay, sometimes all you want is to get or give a hug.

Who doesn’t like being kissed? It has to be right though, if it’s not, then what’s the point? Isn’t it better to feel bad for a moment by saying no and stopping things going too far rather than harming you both in the long run? It’s okay to misjudge things but you always know when something isn’t coming from the right place.

On your lips just leave it, if you don’t mean it.

@TheSamMcLeod

So this is the new year.

Here we are.

For some of us, we are on the 365th and final day of the year. Some of us have already or are currently enjoying the celebrations as midnight has come and gone depending on our respective locations.

I know for some people the 31st of December is just another day. It’s always been a personal favourite of mine as I think about all the exciting things to come in the year ahead. Not once does the possibility of everything not going completely to plan enter my head, this certainly can’t be put down to youthful naivety!

I’ve only ever experienced the clock chiming midnight on December 31st in three different countries, Scotland, Italy and the USA. All three countries have very contrasting traditions for this most special night.

In Italy, it’s tradition to wear red underwear to ring in luck for the year ahead! This goes for men and women!

Four years ago tonight, my girlfriend at the time and I were sat in a little restaurant in Venice called Bacaro Jazz, enjoying our meal before heading to Piazza San Marco to join in the celebrations. Those who know the restaurant know that it is also encouraged for female diners to donate their bra which is then pinned to the ceiling. Cue the scenes as midnight approached when pretty much every single women in the place undid their bra, red of course, and handed it to a beaming barman to hang up. Let’s face it, all of us men would have had the smile he had on his face at that point!

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Two years ago tonight, we were in New York. Probably the most famous tradition in the United States is the dropping of the New Year ball in Times Square, New York City. At 11:59 pm, thousands gather to watch the ball make its one minute descent, arriving exactly at midnight.

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It was a great night, although rather bizarre to watch Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Pitbull perform in the flesh. I’m convinced not one of them sang live!

And to Scotland. Whether it’s been quiet nights in watching Scotch and Wry and Only An Excuse or street parties in which ever city I’ve been, each one has been memorable for it’s own reasons.

Tonight will be a quiet one, reflecting on the year just gone and the twelve months that are ahead. 2013 has been a year of change, job, house, relationship status, apparently the three most stressful changes in life. Roll on 2014!

I’ve been fortunate to meet some incredible people this year whether through work, play, even meets that have been instigated by social media.

Things change, some important people to me and a lot of others have passed away. Some new additions to my family and friends have entered the world and I look forward to those boys and girls growing up.

To everyone that has met me, spent time with me or interacted with me in one way or another, I hope that 2014 brings you every happiness and success that you deserve.

Enjoy the celebrations tonight, I’m excited to see what 2014 brings for all of us.

Bliadhna Mhath √ôr.