some way to greet the year

I flew down to Florida just after Christmas to spend the new year with a good friend of mine, who was down there for work and decided the Boston winter was too cold to spend a week there--"I'll visit when it's nice"--and she took me to a house party of one of her coworkers. I didn't know anyone but they soon figured out I was from up north, kept telling me how it must have been so cold there, they don't know how I can stand it, it's freezing enough down here, how cold is it there right now? We looked up the weather. Eight degrees and dropping. It had just snowed six to eight inches. The wind chill was negative fourteen. I told them that was nothing.

I had a small but captive audience as I told some of my stories. Getting arrested in Minneapolis, getting lost in LA, running into an old friend at a diner in Chicago, protesting in New York. My friend, I assumed, was mingling or talking to someone elsewhere. I was a hit at her parties because I had such a checkered past. I had adventures behind me. I had stories to tell. She was brilliant and successful and had brilliant, successful friends, and I was worried they'd think I was useless, but I think I was too fascinating for that.

I saw my friend duck outside and joined her. I asked if I was boring her with my stories, and she said no. I asked if something was wrong and she didn't answer, but she nodded. I asked if she could talk about it and she said no. I asked if I could help and she said no.

Someone inside shouted "two minutes!" and she stayed and stared out into the dark ocean. She didn't cry, or ask me to hold her, or say anything. I stood and watched her, entirely unsure of what to do--if there was anything I could do. Inside, they started counting down. Everyone shouted "Happy New Year!" and glasses clinked. My friend smiled weakly and said "Happy New Year," her voice barely more than a whisper. She kissed me on the cheek and pushed me back inside. A few moments after she was back in with me, like nothing had ever happened, asking if I'd told them the story about New York. Asking if I was glad I was out of the snow.

"I don't know," I said. "I'm not sure what I'm missing."

1 comment:

Janie said...

Celsius? I feel like I found a small treasure.