Saturday, January 01, 2005

Day One

You know that you had a good New Year's Eve when you don't wake up until noon (or later) the next day.

It's Day One of 2005, and I didn't stir until 12 p.m., having crashed into bed sometime around 3 a.m. We started our celebrating around 7:30 p.m. with some egg nog at our next door neighbors' house, along with another neighbor from our triplex. There was enough nog in the drinks to convince me that I'd just won $25 on one of the lottery tickets in my Christmas card. By the sober light of the next morning (well, afternoon), it turns out that I hadn't scratched the ticket thoroughly enough. It was one of those confusing Bingo games that actually requires you to work to figure out if you're a winner. Due to incomplete scratching, I had mistaken a "41" for an "11."

After that interlude, we headed to a house party a few streets down. On the way, there is another triplex that looks almost exactly like ours. I made a mental note: If I consume too much "holiday cheer," I should not head for the very first place that looks like home.

From the end of the block, the party house looked quiet and still. But as we approached, we could see the kids romping upstairs through the windows, and the pulse of music rose in volume with each step closer to the door. Inside, the party was in full swing. There was a snack-laden table in the front room and hot dishes and drinks in the kitchen. The family room was the scene of the music and the main revelry, although the party had spilled over pretty much throughout the house.

Our hostess had the neat idea to set up a pajama party for the kids upstairs. That way, they could party to their hearts' content and then drop in place. But most of them decided that it was more fun to hang out with the "big kids" downstairs. It was an especially huge hit when the lights went down and the glow sticks came out.

I was varying between alcoholic beverages and soda, but my husband was sticking to a potent rotation of margaritas, wine, and Godiva white chocolate liquor. I was feeling tipsy, but he was well beyond feeling any pain. I won't go into details of the freewheeling conversation, but suffice it to say that I will never think of either China or Taco Bell in the same way again. It is also amazing how fascinating a "virtual dancer" on the computer can be!

I also consumed an obscene amount of calories, but I take no responsibility. How can I resist items like turtle confections, caramel Chex mix, corn salsa with chips, and delicious chili with shredded cheese when my willpower has already been severely lowered by alcoholic beverage consumption?

I did notice an interesting phenomenon; like the hostess, I am from Chicago, and the parties there tend to run all night. You keep going until the wee hours, when you pretty much drop in place, unless you have enough energy to seek out a couch or other more suitable area. The next morning apparently differs, depending on your social circle. My friend said she would whip up a big breakfast for everyone when they finally regained consciousness. In my social group, the usual result was that people would simply wake up one by one and drag themselves home at various times.

Conversely, in Celebration, parties seem to end earlier. I was amazed that several people headed home before midnight. The party had started at 7 p.m., so that was still a good stretch, but conservative by Chicago standards.

My husband and I were determined to wait it out until the new year arrived. As the countdown entered its final minutes, the champagne was passed out and the music was turned down so we could switch to Dick Clark and the ball in Times Square. That's one advantage of living in Florida; you are in the same time zone as New York. In Chicago, you watch all the hoopla on television an hour early, and by the time "your" New Year rolls around, it feels anti-climactic.

I'm sure that there were fireworks outside, but they were muffled by the sounds of the party. After 2005 had arrived, things shifted into high gear. I remember more drinks, glow stick dancing, and conversation that would make Linda Lovelace blush. Eventually most of the people started trickling out, and we joined them at some point between 1:30 and 2 a.m.

As we walked home, it didn't seem at all strange to me to be walking in mild weather, surrounded by palm trees, rather than being in single-digit cold and snow. The one thing that did seem odd was the eerie quiet. Other than the distant echo of a lone firework, we didn't hear a sound or see a soul. A couple of cars passed us, but most of the houses that we passed were dark; even those with lights had no partying bodies visible. In Chicago, the partiers would still be going strong.

We were still pretty wired when we arrived home (thankfully we still had enough presence of mind to go to the right house), so my husband went upstairs to read for a while, while I checked my email. I think it was right around 3 a.m. when I finally crashed. Other than a brief interlude to answer a phone call around 9 a.m., the next thing I remember is hearing the coffee grinder some time around noon.

We actually had a fairly ambitious day. I tidied up the house to give anyone who might pop over the illusion that we actually live like civilized people. Meanwhile, my husband dismantled the silver Christmas tree and its dazzling array of color wheels.

Tonight we'll attempt to get back on a somewhat regular sleep schedule. We're going out with some friends, but it will probably be an early evening because they have a "teenage drama queen" (as her mom loves to call her) at home. On Sunday, the holiday visitors should be heading home en masse, so we'll probably hit the Animal Kingdom for a safari or two before closing time and then pop over to Disney-MGM for one last look at the Osborne lights. We may check out the parks on Monday, too, to compare the wall-to-wall crowds of a week earlier with what will probably seem like a ghost town now.

My husband wants to brave one of the Disney parks for New Years Eve someday, but I'm more of a house party person. I like private parties, or perhaps a small community event. I'm sure the poor souls at the Magic Kingdom were out well past 3 a.m., mainly because it probably took them that long to get out of the park and maneuver through the traffic.

2005 promises to be an interesting year. Goodness knows that 2003 and 2004 have brought about some major changes for my husband and I, but I suspect that this new year will top both of them. It's off to a darned good start, so with any luck the momentum will continue. Happy 2005!

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