I was young, six months newlywed, and had recently moved to New York with my husband. He was a freshly discharged airman first class and a native New Yorker. So, when I said that we should go to Times Square on New Year’s Eve, his been-there-done-that persona kicked in and he suggested that instead of spending an evening crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with a multitude of revelers the two of us could enjoy a candlelight dinner in our own Brooklyn neighborhood. “But it’s free and there are no tickets required,” I mildly protested. He then did what any loving husband would do, he caved.
On December 31, we ate dinner, then layered up and headed for Times Square, where we spent time hand-in-hand, blithely walking around looking like love struck tourists, and trying to keep warm. At around 11 PM he suggested we go stake out our spot for the best viewing.
By 11:30 thousands of people were jam-packed in the Theater District waiting for the ball to drop. There wasn’t enough room to turn around even if we had wanted to, so my hubby, standing directly behind me, embraced me tightly in his arms as I stood with my back pressed against his chest, and everyone nearby inadvertently huddled against us and each other. Even amid all of the warm bodies I could still feel the cold of the frigid night and I was glad I wore boots.
At 11:59 the huge, luminous, aluminum ball brightening the night sky began its descent from the top of One Times Square; and the jubilant crowd began counting down. 10, 9, 8 . . . . And then — midnight magic. Couples began hugging and kissing their significant other — or New Year’s lover — while blowing blowouts, twirling noisemakers, and joyously screaming, “Happy New Year!” It was exciting. It was enchanting. It was electric! I don’t believe there is a more exhilarating place in the world than Times Square on New Year’s Eve, especially when you are young and in love.
Within minutes after midnight the multitude began dispersing at a snail’s pace. My husband gripped my hand. “Whatever you do, don’t fall down,” he cautioned. He was aware that I was occasionally stumbling when my feet got entangled with the feet of others packed like sardines around us. But he didn’t have to tell me what I already feared – anyone who falls down will be trampled by the crowd.
We could only take baby steps as we made our way along the street, moving in unison with the crowd like a gigantic centipede. When we maneuvered to the outer fringes of the throng and reached a storefront, hubby pulled me into the doorway. We waited there patiently, pressed against the locked door until the crowd thinned out enough for us to walk unimpeded to the subway. Then, we took a train ride home and toasted the New Year with champagne. That was my first – and last –New Year’s Eve at Times Square.
Years later my husband and I divorced, but I have never forgotten that night. There are some events so magical that you remember them for the rest of your life. Do I long for another New Year’s Eve at Times Square? In this day and age? Does a chicken have lips?
Tell me, what was your most memorable New Year’s Eve? While you’re thinking about that . . . have a Happy New Year!