New Town, New Year

It's 8 p.m. on the eve of the new millennium, and Becky is begging me to stay. She's the sister of my best friend's girlfriend, and I'm helping decorate her table with candy corn and those annoying little glitter stars as I explain to her my New Year's history. I'd never had a good one, and had experienced an array of misfortunes while listening to the cheers and party horns. The New Year's celebration loses some of its majesty, I explain, when you're vomiting up bad prawns or chasing a crying girlfriend down the street yelling, "I'm sorry!" So this year is going to be different. I'm not going to waste it at some apartment party. I'm going out. I'm going to do something cool.

I'm new to the city, and the only people I know are going to be at this party. They have the finest, cheapest wine the corner liquor store has to offer, a potpourri of finger foods and plates that almost match.

At 9 p.m. I set out for the clubs with a girl I barely know from college, her friend and a guy I've known less than two months. Needless to say, we end up at one of the least cool, most cheesy meat-market clubs in town and, after shelling out $35 for admission, resign ourselves to stay. We've gone from mismatched plates and boxed wine to plastic plates and pitchered beer, but we're determined to have a good time, so we make small talk and finish our meatball-looking snack, waiting patiently for our bloodstreams to become saturated with alcohol.

At 11 p.m. I'm realizing that this night is not turning out cool at all. Sure, we do a little dancing to DJ Spin-the-Hits and do a lot of superficial cheering to keep us all focused on the significance of the night, but I'm just not feeling it. The guy I'm with certainly is feeling the friend of the girl I'm with, but the night seems empty and unimportant. I'm doing everything I wanted to be doing on the eve of this new millennium, but I'm beginning to think that I'd almost rather be heaving up bad prawns, if only in the company of friends. Friends that I could talk to without the constant bass thumping of whatever awful song I'm listening to at the moment. Friends who place more importance on who they're with than where they are, or whether what they're doing is cool. Friends like Becky.

At 11:45 p.m., amidst the lights and the thumps, I stand up and begin to run. I run past two of my companions, now ferociously grinding in the corner. I run past my college friend. I have a feeling she'll be all right, and frankly, I don't much care at the moment. I run down the stairs and out into the street. I charge down Blake desperately looking for an available cabbie, preferably one with little regard for traffic laws and a heavy pair of shoes. At 11:55, the cab pulls up to Becky's apartment and I throw a wad of money at the cab driver. It might have been five bucks, it might have been a hundred. The elevator is running slower than ever, and I glance at my watch and each of the ten floors it's passing, praying that I had it set right.

As I barrel down the hallway at 11:58, my cell phone rings. It's Becky. She's calling to express her disappointment that I won't be there for this momentous milestone in mankind's history. I stop outside her door and absorb the lectures one by one, as my best friend and some of my other friends get on the phone to emphasize Becky's point. Finally she gets back on the phone and lets me know that she has to go because the ball is about to drop.

It's 11:59 and fifty seconds as I burst through the door to the company of my closest friends. Becky scrambles from across the room to embrace me, and my best friend hands me a glass of the best wine I've still had to this day. The group of us spill out to the balcony and scream out the countdown as we witness the dawn of a new era together.

I smile as those beautiful little glittery stars rain down on my friends as they dance and laugh and drink against the magnificent Denver skyline. As I look out over the celebrating city, I wonder if anybody out in any of those clubs could possibly have as good of a New Year's Eve. It's pretty cool.

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Brian Lam