new year’s eve is an interesting holiday, isn’t it? in my head i’ve always divided u.s. holidays into two categories: the family ones and the party ones. the family holidays are easter/passover, christmas/hanukkah, and thanksgiving. the party holidays are st. patrick’s day, memorial day, labor day, halloween, and new year’s eve. the fourth of july can go either way, depending on who decides to have people over.
i used to feel a lot of pressure when it came to new year’s eve. if i didn’t party like it was party’s last night in town and have as much fun as humanly possible, i felt like a loser. thankfully i got over that in the late nineties. now my less-stressful, more-attainable midnight goal is to be doing something someplace with some people. for no reason, here’s a list of all the new year’s eves i remember:
sometime in the early eighties: my parents go out for the night with another couple. they get one babysitter to watch me, my sister, and the other couple’s two daughters. we light sparklers in the backyard. when it’s time for bed, i insist that the babysitter wake me when it’s midnight. she taps me on the shoulder at 11:59 as promised, but i’m too sleepy to get up.
sometime in the late eighties: my parents go to a party. they get our favorite babysitter to watch me, my sister, and some other kid whose name and face i can’t remember. the babysitter brings a friend along. we play hide-and-seek and drink chocolate milk.
1991: i’m invited to a friend’s house down the street, but for some reason my parents won’t let me go. they go to a party, and i spend the evening sulking in my room. a local radio station plays prince’s 1999, but every time prince sings the last 9, the disc jockeys break in and shout 2 instead. “so tonight i’m gonna party like it’s nineteen-ninety TWO!” this makes me sulk even more, since i’m not allowed to party like it’s nineteen-ninety anything.
1996: my friend marisa and i spray-paint our hair blue, dress all in black, and go to fitzgerald’s. we’re sort of there to see the hunger, but at least sixty or seventy other crappy bands are playing first. we sit patiently through some of them, but we leave when a group called dinosaur salad gets everyone to throw their drinks at each other. when midnight hits, we’re in the car on the way home, our goth credibility ruined forever.
1997: lauren and jessica and i drive to san antonio to visit lauren’s cousin and his boyfriend. we originally intend to go out somewhere, but we end up staying in the apartment and taking ridiculous pictures of each other instead. it’s more fun than it sounds. the boyfriend takes a picture of the new tattoo on my back. it’s still one of my favorite pictures of me.
1998: i’m working at my first waitressing job, making drinks and pouring shots and drinking shots. by the time midnight rolls around, i’m so drunk i can barely remember what everyone orders. it’s more fun for me than it is for the customers.
1999: jessica, amanda, and i go to a few early parties. at one of them, amanda’s sister’s friend says to me, “i dyed my muff green, wanna see?” i politely decline. then we go to a bar to meet another friend of ours, but he’s not there, and neither is anyone else. at midnight we join the other five bar patrons on the patio to see if we can hear any signs of a millennial apocalypse. sadly, Y2K sounds like every other new year. later, we climb up onto the roof of my apartment building, drink vodka and orange juice, and listen to my next-door neighbor on the radio.
2000: i’m in plymouth, massachusetts, visiting ryan. we spend new year’s eve at the place where ryan’s housesitting, with his lucky brother jeremy and a few of jeremy’s friends. there are gin and tonics and the pixies and dancing and a fire in the fireplace. it is cold outside and wonderful.
2001: i work the dinner shift at the restaurant and then hurry over to a party at the southmore house. i grossly overachieve in my drinking, and someone has to drive me home so that i can throw up and cry. i remember virtually nothing about the party itself, except that someone threw their own pants into the bonfire.
2002: i work the dinner shift at the restaurant and then hurry home to spend the evening with andy. we drink beer and play trivial pursuit. he wins.
2003: i go to austin to spend new year’s eve with jeff and kevin, both of whom bring dates. through no fault of theirs, and despite their valiant efforts to include me, i’m kind of a fifth wheel. 2003 was such a bad year that when midnight hits, i cry a little.
2004: it’s jeff and kevin and company in austin again, but this time i bring jessica along. we hang out in a hotel room and then a bar, with a funk band and balloons and drinks and talking and laughing. it is, in a word, awesome.
i’ve never found any particular correlation between what happens to me on a given new year’s eve and how the rest of that year turns out. i think that new year’s eve would start to stress me out again if i tried to look for such patterns, or at the very least i’d end up with a headache. this year, though, i hope there’s a correlation. if there is, it’s going to be a good year.