So here I am typing away at the final hours of yet another year, but not just any year. The ball drops tonight on the first decade of the new millennium. I remember New Year’s Eve 1999 as if it was yesterday; a night bloated with the hope and promise of a new millennium, Y2K predictions, and madness.
On New Year’s Eve 1999, I had an office at 4 Times Square with a huge window that was eye-to-eye with the iconic Waterford crystal Time Square Ball. My staff and I spent most of that morning watching the workmen test the ball again, and again, and again. I figure we rang in the New Year about 30 times that morning—and toasted each time. Having one of the best seats in the house, I wish I can say I stayed to watch the ball drop from my office at midnight, but I had to abandon it by 3pm because Mayor Rudy Guiliani and his entourage were commandeering not only my office, but the entire side of the floor for their own private festivities. I don’t want to talk out of turn, but when I returned to work a full bottle of Oban single-malt scotch that I kept in my bottom drawer for emergencies seemed to have gone out with the New Year, along with my humongous rubberband ball! I was going to report it to Security, but most of the guys were retired NYC detectives who loved the mayor. However, Mr. Guiliani, "J'accuse!”
Fast-forward ten years. Let’s just say there’s absolutely no chance Rudy Guiliani is commandeering my present space to ring in the next decade, unless he has an itch only Jersey can scratch. I offer no single-malt scotch this time around--just a son who swears (God bless him) that we’re African-American and wants his Kwanzaa presents; a dog medicated for stress; a husband who walks around the house with a confused expression—as if he’s mistakenly walked through the door of someone else’s house; and a squirrel who thinks he’s the newest family pet and scratches at the door when he’s not hurling shingles from the roof. If I could teach the furry-fiend to use a hammer and nails, he’d have a home.
Sitting here reflecting upon the first ten or fifteen years of my life, those years seem endless; a most sacred time, really, when I wished everyday into tomorrow without regard; when I didn’t suffer from wrong and right because I had my parents to guide me through my choices. Most importantly, the people who meant everything to me were with me every day—only a block or two away. There was no memory or regret to block my view of the days that stretched out before me. There was nothing but time and opportunity.
Ten years ago I picked up the phone everyday to check the amount in my I.R.A. Ten years later I pick up the phone everyday just to make sure that it’s still on and the phone company hasn’t disconnected us. Ten years ago I had a full bank account and an empty life. Now I have the fullest life and the emptiest bank account. I think I’m on the right side of the equation. This life, so much more than anything money can provide, is as full as it will ever be. I have a man, the love of my life, who adores me and through it all—the jokes, the columns, the false arrests--brings me flowers from the Korean market every Friday; children who fill my house with laughter and as many of their hungry friends as they can everyday; and a dog who would follow me through the fires of hell as long as I held a meatball in my hand. Ten years from now my children will be older and have lives of their own, and my life will begin its descent towards a time where the craziness will have moved onto some other young couple’s house.
May this decade bring you fond memories of years passed, good health, peace, love, and endless laughter. Ten years from now: Party At My House!
(“Jim, sit down! You’re in the right house!”)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!