Intersections – 1999
By Nicki Salcedo
When I think back on the best things that happened this year, I end up back in 1998. It was not an exceptional year in any way, except all year we planned to party like it’s 1999. On December 31, I was in New York City.
At 3 pm, we walked through Times Square. The crowd were forming. Police officers and barricades lined the streets. It reminded me of end of the world movies when aliens attack. Always in New York City. Atlanta is never attacked by aliens. By 11:59 pm, we were nestled in an Irish pub twenty blocks away. We’d spent the day walking the city in the falling snow.
There was no guide book for how to properly party like it’s 1999. I was with my college roommates. We crashed in a two bedroom apartment. Two bedroom meant one room with beds and another room with a sofa, not two separate bedrooms. And eight of us slept in that apartment. What a party.
I’m sure friends will be gathered like that tonight. Wandering the streets the next day and finding good French toast on Lexington made by a real French man in Manhattan. It is possible that 1998 was the best part of my year this year.
Or it could be 1999 was the best part of my year. That was spent in L.A. the night before The Rose Bowl and Y2K. Instead of an alien invasion, the 2000 apocalypse in Los Angeles was going to be computers malfunctioning and riots in the streets.
The Terminator is my all-time favorite movie. I was not afraid of Y2K. I mentally prepared myself to join the human resistance. We went to Costco around 3 pm. People were buying generators and five gallons of mayonnaise. I had plans to party like two-thousand zero zero party over. It’s out of sight.
At 11:59 pm, we were at a restaurant in Pasadena. I did not dance 1999 in or dance 1999 out. That’s what happens on New Year’s Eve. A lot of build up for nothing.
In 2003, I rang in the New Year with bronchitis and partied with Scrabble and Nyquil. I missed 11:59 pm completely. I fell asleep at ten o’clock at night and woke up at two in the morning. Honestly, 11:59 pm is the most irritating minute of the year. Why are we all watching time like that minute should do a trick or tell a joke?
Each year we hurry out the old to bring in the new, but I think I’d like to cling to this year. Why do we hate the things we’ve done or haven’t done? Why do we want to forget the things that have happened to us? What difference will a minute make?
I keep friends in Australia just for December 31. They’ll drag this globe into the next year whether we want to go or not. By the time I open my eyes, Australia has already partied for me. Thank you, Oz! I’m sorry I’m always behind the times.
I remember my New York New Year’s Eve just as clearly as the one spent with Nyquil. I’m not sorry to see this year go, even though I should be. It was my first year without my dad. Every day and every holiday marked his absence. If this year ends, I’ll only move further away from him.
Then again, this was a good year for so many reasons. My book was published. I had an expected trip to Madrid and an unexpected trip to Costa Rica. If you had told me I was going to travel on 11:59 pm last year, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I now expect sadness to come with happiness. I hope for the unexpected. I count on the predictable. Some things happen every year. Time is constant like the waves touching the shore, but even the tide changes. Time is too close. Time is too far away.
My very favorite New Year’s tradition is sparkling apple cider and homemade cheese biscuits. I party like it’s 1999 every year. I like to wear my pajamas and my wool socks. I like to reminisce about the alien invasion and robot uprising. I like to watch the clock and for a minute feel like Cinderella. There are some of us who don’t want the clock to strike midnight.
And there’s me, who wants a time machine. May goodness find you in the future and the past.
Happy Old Year. Happy New Year.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.