We are in the purple room, my husband and I. The purple room is in Thailand, in Koh Samet. There are two little birds painted in the purple wall by the bed. They seem to be talking, although I don’t know what about. We celebrated New Year’s Eve here last night. It is already the next year in this place but not in the countries where my husband and I were born, Costa Rica and the US. The hotel that the room belongs to organised a New Year’s dinner for the guests. We dress and walk toward the celebration, hand in hand. The air is bubbly and festive at the beginning, with lots of food, fireworks and candles that go like balloons very high in the dark sky. But soon people seem to get tired and they start to excuse themselves and return to their rooms, that I imagine to be purple as well. Thai people don’t celebrate the end of the year like us and most guests in our hotel are Thai. After an hour of karaoke the place is almost empty. My husband and I shrug and leave the little table by the sea, with its empty plates and glasses, reminders of celebratory times. There are many Swedes sitting outside the other hotels, this beach seems to belong to them. Thai people entertaining them, and us, on a night ordinary for them when they would probably prefer to be home, sipping a bowl of noodles, thinking maybe about the end of their own year that wont happen until April.
Still, here we are, and so is the music, and the lights in the sky, and the anxious hands occupied with telephones; sending messages home and beyond, checking who is remembering them even if they chose to celebrate in a place far from home. What time is in Costa Rica now? I ask my husband and he has to pull out his phone to check the time. He frowns, the calculation is straining. It should be 11am, he says. Oh, I see, I reply; mesmerised by those arbitrary numbers that define past future and now. I’ve never been good with maths. I called my mother hours before to wish her a Happy New Year but the call didn’t go so well because it was night here and I was freshly perfumed and raising a glass of wine to toast with my husband for another year together, but my mom was sleeping and my call woke her up and it took her a while to clear her voice and say It’s okay, I can talk, and tell me with the vague capacity of that one that still sleeps about her plans for the night (simple dinner with a friend) and ask me about that far place where I am and I know she can’t imagine, with her drowsy mind and all. And I say: Mmm, it’s just like Costa Rica, it’s amazing. Everything. The people and the food no, but the nature, the ocean, the smell of the salty air. And she says, Really? and I imagine her nodding, in her ample bed with warm blankets where I have so many times been, where I have laid next to her to watch a movie or chat without looking at each other, eyes placed on the front wall where she keeps an antique looking photo of her as a child, with her chunky legs twisted, the points of her orthopaedic white shoes almost touching themselves. Okay mom, go back to sleep, I say and look at my husband that is handsome with his tan and his smile.
We wait for 12 to come, that strange ritual in which our watch (Thais didn’t make any official announcement) tells us that a brand new year has begun. The sky is pregnant with lights. I look at them, my neck bent at its maximum capacity, and they are pretty but they also make me sad because I know they will stop being at some point and the sky will be quiet and dark again, and tomorrow blue and clear as it has been all these days, and that moment of necks bent and expecting eyes will seem already so far away, buried in the past. I look into the ocean instead, a more certain place where boats have always come and go, where people bathe now and will bathe tomorrow; no difference, no time.
We come to the purple room and sit outside sipping a beer. The minute we enter 2012 will be here. We will go to sleep and will wake up in the future. We don’t say much, my husband and I. We have not talked about it because we want to be able to live in the moment, but I know we make mental lists and we probably feel sad about what we haven’t accomplished and anxious about the possibilities of getting there this coming year, whatever there is and wherever it is. We finally enter the room and close the door behind us. It is a large glass door through which we can see outside. But it is dark, nothing to see. Time to sleep. Lights are off. I dream that someone in a plane touches me and Ben and then we are in a different planet. There is no one in that planet, just us and the girl that touched us. We are given privileges to see our previous world (like a reality TV show) but not interact with it. I don’t like the dream. I wake up.
It is daytime when I open my eyes. Outside it is 2012 but not in the purple room yet. In here we can play with time and say that it’s still 2011 in Boston, where we lived for some years, and in Michigan and San Jose, where we were born; and just the beginning of this current year in London, where our home is; whereas here it is already too late. Too late to be still in bed, typing about time behind a close door. It is getting to be that moment when I get up, put on some new clothes, leave the purple room and let some of that fresh breeze I see blowing outside into my lungs. I will breath and say: It is okay, it is not another year, it is just another day in my life.