I arranged my Christmas trip home so that I would be back in New York for New Year's--the first time other than my mission I'd welcome in a baby with a sash anywhere but Utah. I thought it might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the ball drop in person (not sure why I thought that was something desirable--New Year's Eve is probably the most overrated holiday there is).
Several things happened to change my plans: 1) every week my desire to move out here on a more permanent basis gets stronger, and if that happens it would become a twice- or thrice- or more in-a-lifetime chance; 2) I heard from people at church that have done it before that you have to be in Times Square by about 3:00 in the afternoon, and that after that you're pretty much stuck there, and people are going to the bathroom in the street and stuff like that, and it's generally not a pleasant place to be; 3) I had nobody to go with; 4)most importantly, I got a better offer.
Back in Provo, I share a wall with Mariana (we both have upstairs bedrooms on opposite sides of our duplex). Not long after I got to New York, she e-mailed me to say she'd be spending New Year's with relatives in Connecticut, and that I could come hang out if I wanted.
So, on New Year's Eve, I hopped on the Metro-North (so much cleaner and more comfortable than the subway) and rode it for an hour or so to Brewster, Connecticut. Mariana (Mo from here on out--that's what her family calls her) , her niece and her uncle Moroni were there to pick me up. The night before I had envisioned one of Mo's young cousins, upon meeting me, asking "Is Mariana your girlfriend?"
"No, we're just friends," I would answer.
Then the follow-up: "Do you have a girlfriend?"
Cleverly, I would respond, "In my life lately, girlfriends are about as real as Santa." (Mo had already told me they "knew the truth" about St. Nick.
This didn't happen. Thanks for NOT setting me up for a good line, kids.
Mo is about my age, and her five cousins range in age from about 5 to 17, so I thought she had invited me out at least in part so she'd have someone to talk to. I was wrong--she loves her family and has a great time with them, and I quickly saw why. The Taylors are a great family, and like Mo are among the most unpretentious people I've ever met. They're smart and funny and really nice, and I had a great time with them.
They were actually having a pretty big party at their house--probably at least 40 people (including kids) were there at some point. It was a fairly standard New Year's Eve party: lots of food, talking, card games, kids getting tired but wanting to stay up, watching the ball drop on TV, then setting off some fireworks and drinking Martinelli's, and eventually everyone goes to bed until noon the next day.
But there were a few notable incidents from my 24 hours in New England:
Mo and I went with her oldest cousin and one of his friends (I remember Mo's aunt and uncle are named Sue and Moroni, but I can't remember the kids' names--sorry, guys) to Walgreen's to pick up more playing cards. On the way, the friend was saying it was cool that Mormons would let non-Mormons come to their party, because he didn't think they were allowed. This led to a pretty good conversation about the church and what we believe in and how Mormons ought to treat people who aren't in the church. The tone of the car ride shifted dramatically, though, when the kid saw someone he knew (not a friend, just someone he knew) in the car next to us at a stoplight. He hopped out of our car and banged on the other guy's window, yelling "Happy New Year." The other guy was startled, but once he had recovered enough to realize he wasn't being carjacked began cussing at us. Kind of a weird scene.
While we were waiting for the rest of the party guests to arrive, Mo and her family introduced me to Flight of the Conchords, a comedy duo who have a show on HBO. They are hilarious, and you can find tons of their videos on YouTube. The video I linked to is clean, but some of their bits are a little PG-13. So proceed with caution.
Most of the people who came to the party brought food with them; one of the Taylors' friends brought something much more entertaining: copies of the American Free Press. I had never heard of it before, but I looked through it a little and discovered that it's like a political version of the Weekly World News (for you kids out there...like a political, non-electronic version of The Onion). One issue had an article about fears of New Hampshire voter tampering among Ron Paul's supporters, another issue went one step farther and predicted assassination attempts against Paul. Conspiracy theories, anonymous sources, anonymous authors...this paper has everything you need to feed your paranoia habit. (I could be wrong, but it seemed like Moroni and Sue were just humoring the guy while he talked about this stuff; if you guys take it seriously, sorry for ridiculing it.)
All in all, it may have been my most memorable New Year's Eve ever. Thanks again, Mo and family, for showing me such a good time. Christmas in Connecticut may be good for Arnold, but for me New Year's in Connecticut is where it's at.