New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day never ranked high with me. We used to take the tree down on New Year’s Day, so it officially and lamentably ended Christmas for the year. The celebrations always seem forced. Still, there it is. I am content to ignore it but we’ve had pleasant and interesting celebrations.
This year we decided last minute to go into town and see the fireworks. The complication was that I worked till 10:00. In fact it was a very busy day, and I was on my feet the whole time. I was ready for sleep. Still, why not?
Beth was well-prepared when she picked me up. She had our camera. Also my down jacket, as protection against cold winds off the harbor.
Erin had already gone in, to watch anime at the Hynes Auditorium. Beth and I went to the Alewife MBTA station. Not only did the T offer free transportation, even the parking there was free. That gave a neat feeling of freedom. The trains seemed to run constantly. I mean every five minutes, at least.
Public transportation means the public display of people. You cannot help taking figurative snapshots. A group of young people headed in, with one of them carrying a 30-rack of Bud Light. Getting off the Red Line, I was almost presented a box of better beers that a guy trying to enter the car carried. I could probably have snatched the seemingly proffered beer and made off with it, due to the press of people.
We changed to the Green Line, and had to go thru the confusion of determining which train heads in the right direction. The words Outbound and Inbound bear no meaning for me in these circs. Well, we chose poorly. We went away from our destination a couple of stops before we turned around and headed back. Then a quick jaunt on the Blue Line.
On one of the crowded cars where we had to stand, Beth lurched a bit when the train started. This immediately caused a young couple to spring up and offer their seats. I preferred to be in readiness to get out thru the crush so I remained standing. Not ready for young ones to offer me their seat, either.
We got out at the Aquarium. The sight of the old Custom House greeted us. Not so many years ago—well, in the 60s—it was the second tallest building in Boston at 24 stories. It’s less than half the height of the tallest ones now. I remember a picture in the newspaper regarding Boston’s extensive redevelopment program, with many new buildings rising. It showed rubble up to the Custom House clock. I naively thought there really was that much rubble. Hook, line, and sinker.
Beth enquired of a policeman where the fireworks were. He pointed down the wharf. The steady flow of people going that way confirmed his assertion. I have to note the women wearing high heels with platforms. The icy, uneven surface down there made for treacherous footing for them. Such shoes tend to make the foot look hooflike, at least that’s my impression.
We waited for Erin to make his way to join us. We then followed the crowd till we came to an open place at the railing. Several years ago, I put my father to bed and we snuck off. This was a risk because if he woke he’d think it was morning and get up, but we took our chance to get out. Somehow we got in, found a place to park on the wharf, saw the display, and got out before the traffic oozed up. We got back hardly after one, and my father slept thru.
Hotels and restaurants all around us, and crowds plus crowds. In front several sailboats were parked. Their rigging was trimmed with white lights. We had about a 20 minute wait. Next to us was a trio of jocular college students. They were drunk, two of them very so. They were concocting a plan in which two of them would go off in search of three girls who they could kiss at midnight. The other would remain behind to keep their place. Naturally the two drunker ones chose to go on the hunt. Beth joked with them a bit then the two questers went off. The other one good-naturedly chatted with us.
The questers returned after five minutes without success. One of them, tho, soon dashed off hopefully again. The other two talked to each other. The drunker one spoke with slurred speech and forceful drunk opinions. He didn’t like the Tea Party. The errant knight returned again with no success. He kept wanting to do things like climb over the rail, which his more sober friend took pains to prevent. The sober one also told him to be careful of his soft drink, which almost ended up on a guy’s white sweater.
At midnight, Beth and I kissed. The trio exclaimed a sincere aww, sans the expected innuendo. During the fireworks, they managed to find sexual expression in the explosions. Which was charmingly goofy. I didn’t set the camera to continual shoot mode but kept the shutter going as if I did.
Afterwards, our three friends drifted away. The drunk ones were planning more feats of drinking or amour. Their soberer friend wanted to be sure they all could make it home safely. We walked back from the wharf and momentarily thought we could outwait the crowd but it kept flowing. The T stop was jammed. We walked literally one block to the next stop and there was no problem getting down to the trains. The trains were packed and a stifling crowd waited for the next. While we waited, a chorus of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” rose up, or erupted, I might say. We probably waited only ten minutes to get on a train but I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the crowd.
On one train, it appeared that a father was trying to encourage and/or forgive his adult son for something. I didn’t hear much of it, going mostly by the earnestness of the two of them, standing there in the middle of the car.
Getting to the next train, there was a guy bellowing “Happy New Year everybody”. It seemed to be his mission to bellow this important sentiment. He stood near me in the car. He and a fellow who had just gotten off shared a New Year’s moment. The loud guy pointed at the other and blared his salute, and the other pointed right back. Neither acted like they knew that New Year’s happens every year. I didn’t feel like it was my job to tell them. The loud guy asserted that people should stop drinking now, and we (he and his friends) should start.
On the final train back to Alewife, Beth and I couldn’t sit next to each other. After a couple of stops, however, space freed up. I moved next to her. She said, “Hi, are you married?” I answered “Twice”. (We renewed our vows this year).People turned to look at us.
We were not the only ones leaving Alewife. Ahead of us at the light to get onto Rt. 2, a car parked barely on the meridian. From it, two policemen emerged. They were there to do what the traffic lights could not. A third policeman was down the road. It really looked like he was disco dancing, waving his arms above his head to assure us to ignore the traffic lights. We got home after 2:00. I got up at 6:00 to feed the cat then slept two more hours. I didn’t have to go to work till 11:00 but I’m kind of wired to rise and sort of shine.
This was by no means a wild celebration but we liked it. The pressure of forcefully enjoying oneself can be pretty demanding. Those tv presentations, whether Guy Lombardo or rockin’ Dick Clark, participants look regimented into the celebration. I just want to say hi to the sun again.