Friday, December 30, 2011

For Auld Lang Syne

On New Year's Eve 2004, we were living in Galesburg.  I waited tables and Walker showed up at the back door at closing with a plate of cookies he'd baked as I left work.  I think we went to a bar then.  Crappy's, maybe?  I was so happy to have made it out of work in time to spend that minute with Walker. 

On New Year's Eve 2005, we were living at Mom's.  I'd just enlisted in Americorps and been hired by a nonprofit.  It was time for us to find our own place.  Mom drove of Walker and I up and down the streets of Lincoln Square looking for an apartment.  It was freezing.  She and Amy listened to Wicked on audiobook.  When we saw a sign in a window, we'd hope out of the van.  We eventually drove by a building with a red door, a rainbow in the window, and a sign with the words "huge yard.  dogs welcome".  It was perfect.  I asked the guy how much at least three times, I wanted to be SURE it was really in our range.  We went back to mom's and ate pizza and played Nintendo with Amy's friend.  I bemoaned our lack of New Year's Eve plans.  Why don't we have plans, cool one, I asked Walker.  You're supposed to be the cool one, he said. 

On New Year's Eve 2006 we were in Amsterdam, walking for hours and hours on end.  Surprised by the volume of fireworks, the children in the street, and the lack of countdown at midnight.  We almost missed the ringing in of the new year, locked in the bathroom from the outside at the place where we were renting a room.  We asked and asked, but couldn't figure out how to get a phone card, so eventually broke down and called Mom and Amy collect.  Later, Dad would scold us for the cost of the call.  Mom would whisper to me "It was worth it!  It was like we were there!"
2007, we were in Bangalore, staying at the apartment of a friend from high school.  We took an auto-rickshaw to MG Drive.  When we arrived, people told us I shouldn't be there, too many bad boys, but it sounded like more selling.  Then we realized there were no women there.  By then it was too late and I was mobbed.  Then I was screaming and cursing.  We paid twice as much to another auto-rickshaw to flee a very bad situation, and ended up buying bread and sambar from a random open door down the street from where we were staying. The sambar came in a plastic bag, tied with string, like a goldfish.  We watched fireworks from the balcony, eating our food, while I wept and cursed over the very unexpected happening we had fled.

2008, we'd planned to amtrak to Bismark to visit Annie.  On December 23rd, our trouble-maker VW died for the last time, in the parking lot of the Jewel grocery store, blocks from Mom's house, with Christmas food, presents, and a cat inside.  The next morning, I looked up used cars on consumer reports, then found just the right car for way below blue book.  Mom lent us the cash so we could make the transaction happen.  We drove home with our new car, then mom and I headed out to file the papers at a money exchange.  We cancelled our train tickets the next day, and drove to Bismark to see our Annie, and spent New Years at Gypsy Foot show with way too much champagne, then spent the wee hours of the morning in a stranger's basement.

(I have gorgeous photos that belong here, and between the following paragraphs, but blogger is being a turd right now, so no dice.)

2009 we spent at Claire Springs Farm in Monroe.  We'd just announced we were getting married.  We spent the night dancing and acting silly with our closest friends.  I love being at the farm.  The next day I sat with my laptop googling farms for rent, and realized there was a very nice farm outside Galesburg -- the site of our wedding seven months later.

2010 we spent in Castara, Tobago at the Boatview, on our honeymoon.  We'd been slow on scheduling our honeymoon, but with the loss of Biggie, we decided to pull the trigger and make it happen.  It would mean that in I didn't see my mom from December 22nd to mid-January, the last Christmas of my mother's life.  Tobago was so laid back we amost couldn't make sense of it -- for instance, they prefer if you buy booze from them, or you can bring your own in.  Whatever.  We met a man named who claimed to be Keith Richards who was most definitely not.  Walker eyed the candles in paper bags on each table suspiciously until finally, at about one a.m., a bag caught on fire, much to our amusement, and relief, since now, at least, we could stop waiting for it to happen.

Tomorrow we are headed back to Claire Springs Farm to ring in the new year with some of our closest friend in the world.  It is with tears in my eyes the last time I rang in the new year there, it was with a much different picture of the future in mind. 

As kids we rang in most our New Years with our parents; if they had plans, we pleading with them to be home at midnight. 1998, I got home from a trip to New York at 11 pm on New Year's Eve.  My mom and dad had just come home from somewhere; we rang int he new year in the kitchen eating snacks.

The day my mom drove us up and down the streets of Chicago, and later like a child I moaned about my lack of new year's plans -- that was my last new years with my mom.  

This year looked nothing like I expected, and I am glad to see it go.

Good riddance, 2011.  I have nothing sweet or sappy to say about you. Yes, you've shown me that my friends and family and husband are amazing, loving, supportive people, but I already knew that.  I didn't need proof.  2011, you took my mother and abused my sister.

2012, please be kind.


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