New York cliché: people spend weeks planning the perfect night for New Year’s Eve. They find the fanciest party, with open bar and killer views. They pick the perfect outfit in which they’ll kick off the new year. They have a swoon-worthy date, exactly who they want to kiss as the clock strikes 12.
New York Cliché: I booked a job working a 15 hour gig on New Year’s Eve. Under the impression we would be in Times Square, the center of NYE action, I was excited. Reality had the activation on a side street, on the outskirts of extravaganza. Outfitted in a shapeless teal jacket, ski pants so large my high school boyfriend would have happily worn then to a rave, and topped off with a solid day of hat hair, I didn’t feel so hot. (In terms of attractiveness. In terms of temperature, I couldn’t have asked for a hotter outfit.) I did manage to score a hot date: my roommate was also working the event.
Not your typical New Year’s Eve.
The music of the Times Square’s live performances wafted on cold December gusts as we stood, smiling and encouraging people to use the lavatory. Yep, I spent my last day of 2013 encouraging people to pee. We had the only toilets accessible near Times Square. Over the strains of Miley and the Biebs, we promoted a cleaning product. Thus we had the most pristine public WC that NYC has ever seen. Oh, we were in high demand, a hot commodity inside a heated tent.
Offering people a pristine “shitter”, could there be a more fitting end to a shitty year?
At 11:30PM we our work day ended. This allowed plenty of time to get out of the area before the pandemonium of post-midnight. But not quite enough time to get to our New Year’s party by midnight. But maybe? We rushed to the subway. Opting to avoid congested streets, we headed for the local rather than express station. Moments later we watched an express train pass us. We looked at each other knowing we made the wrong choice. Two minutes later another express train passed.
“Are you serious?” my roommate yelled at the train.
“FUCK YOU 2013!” was my contribution.
“Well, we’re not going to make it. There’s no chance in hell. Let’s just resolve ourselves to the fact we’re ringing in 2014 underground on a train.” No sooner was this thought spoken than a local train pulled up. “Great. At least we’ll be there shortly after midnight.”
The train pulled up to 59th Street and there sat express train, waiting for us. The one we had screamed at in frustration.
“No way!” we exclaimed with joy.
Our chance in hell was returned. It was 11:44PM. This was a subway race against the clock. With hope restored, our spirits soared. We wouldn’t make the party, but at least chances were we wouldn’t be in a dirty subway car.
As our train sped past the local train, I looked out the window at those traveling adjacent to us. Would they be spending the turn of the new year on the subway? Did they care. I made eye contact with a man who looked about my age. I smiled and waved at him. His face lit up brighter than Times Square, I watched him nudge his friend next to him. My roommate and I laughed and waved at two boys who laughed and waved back, all of us in the exact same predicament. It was a great moment. The last great moment of 2013.
We got out of the subway at 11:56PM. The view of downtown and the Empire State greeted us. Beautiful. There was no way we’d make it, but still we ran up the hill. Crossing the street, a block and a half away from our destination, we had our own countdown. Under a scaffolding on a New York City street we cheered, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 HAPPY NEW YEAR!” We laughed, threw our arms around each other, and kissed. Two people walking in front of us saw this and laughed and then felt inspired to do the same. It was a great moment. The first great moment of 2014.
Walking the rest of the way to the party, my roommate mused.
Maybe this is the year we both almost make it. The year we get so close, we can see the lights at the end of the block, hear the music, almost reach the top of the hill. We won’t quite get there by midnight, but we’ll enjoy it none the less. That’s an important kind of year, one we both need. This is the perfect start.
Here’s to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (not in a death way, don’t worry), emerging from the fog of uncertainty. I see that happening this year. Cheers to that, to 2014.