Happy New Year

Another year comes to a close tonight.  It’s amazing to realize that I am as far South East as I can be from home in the States.  Last year at this time, I would have never guessed it.  How does one bring in the New Year without cold and snow?  I would have never thought I’d not be celebrating with friends, either.  But, I do have my 3 hairy companions, and an entire coast of new people in shorts and sandals to meet.  How shall we celebrate? 

As I check through the listings of what’s happening around the area, there are dozens of things going on.  Perhaps the New Year’s cruise on the Calypso Queen?  Or maybe one of the many all-inclusive evenings at the clubs?   I evaluate the choices, leaning more and more toward our favorite Pier 60.  It’s decided.

So I put on my best shorts and T-shirt, give the girls a quick brush, and the four of us are off to the Pier.  We walk all up and down Pier 60 all afternoon, check out the vendors and entertainers, talk to people, listen to great live bands, and take in the last of 2012 sun and breeze. 

After walking back to the truck, feeding the kids and tucking them in, I head over to the shops and do some browsing.  I hear people talking about the fireworks.  FIREWORKS??  I am an absolute FREAK for fireworks!  My mission becomes finding where the fireworks are.  I walk down to the end of the big Pier, and learn this is not where they would be.  People are talking about them being shot from Tarpon Springs or Tampa or somewhere far away.  Not options.  As the sun starts to set I am driven to find out more, but no one seems to know anything.

People are swarming toward where the movies are shown.  What’s playing tonight?  Well, New Years Eve, of course.  I’m in.  I run back to the truck, get a blanket and my big boy Buddy, and we get back to the grass just in time for the movie to start.  I look around at all of the families, couples, and friends hunkered down to watch the movie.  Buddy is tight to my side, happy to be with me.  New Years Eve is a hoot–star studded and true to life scenarios.  I am grateful to have Buddy with me.  As he gets chilled I cradle his big butt into the back of my oversized jacket, but end up giving him my whole side of the blanket so he can curl into it.  The movie gets me thinking things I haven’t thought about in a long time.  Some sad, some happy, some melancholy, some hopeful.  Life has a way of happening, with or without us.  Good job, movie.  By 8:30 it’s over, I bring Buddy back to the truck and go look for food.

Crabby Bills is the perfect place for a late dinner!  I belly up to the bar and order all sorts of seafood, starting with a fantastic seafood chowder to warm me up, and a plate of Aligator strips.  Yum!  All this, and great conversation with a couple from the UK, there on vacation.  They don’t know about the fireworks either.

Afterwards, I wander the marina looking for any last minute deals on deep sea fishing trips.  It’s not well lit, and the only people walking up and down the marina are couples. Ok, I can take a hint.  Exit the dock, get back to the main drag and head to Shepards.  They were listed as having a big party.

Who would have thought that I could just walk right in without paying the $150 fee to get in for the party?  Well I did.  Bingo, I am in, ordering a drink, and spending the remainder of the evening at my favorite seafood restaurant on a floating deck, jumping up and down and dancing to a great DJ spinning all the latest—including Gangnam Style— with about 500 people I don’t know.  No matter, we are kindred spirits, looking to send out the old, and celebrate a new chapter of our lives. 

It’s twenty minutes before the New Year.  Hey, I’ll pretty much be the first one to celebrate bringing in the New Year from my cluster of central time friends.  Wanting to reach out to everyone I care about, I start making calls—from the deck– beginning with East Coasters.   As I go through my phone, of course, everyone else is out as well, so I leave message after message of New Year Greeting screams with music blaring and people screaming and laughing and celebrating. 

We are down to the 60 second countdown.  At the stroke of midnight the floating deck evolves into an all-out frenzy of hugging, jumping, and Champagne sprinkling us as plastic glasses clash together, immediately followed by a “BOOM” that shakes my ribcage.

HUGE FIREWORKS, right in front of our deck party!  Can a person be drunk on fireworks?  I think I can, and definitely am for the next 30 minutes.  Sparkle and color lights splatter up the sky above us.  Amazing, amazing, this is the best New Years I can remember in a very long time.  A girl next to me grabs me into their group of 5 jumping up and down screaming  “oohhh, ahhh,”.  We are laughing and jumping, there are people hugging, crying and kissing all around us.  

Finally, the huge blast of massive explosive color finale dissipates into the air leaving only a twinkle or two of light hanging in the sky.  I make my sly exit, dance-walking my way through the drunken crowd and out the front door.

Wow, what a rush! And to think, some people worry about me being alone.  As I head up to the sidewalk, I approach a guy standing over a woman on the ground.  She clearly planted herself,  face first, onto the cement, and was not doing well.  He clearly needed help, so I stopped.

“You don’t want me, you don’t love me, I know it…” she mutters.  He is trying to pick her up, begging her to get up, and she resists.  She can’t get up.  He looks at me, bewildered. 

“Can I help you guys?  Do you need help?”

 He is embarrassed, but says yes.  I get down on the ground with her, move her hair out of her face.  “Hey, hon, how you doin?  Hey, we were thinking it might be good to head back now, ok?” 

“He doesn’t want me.”

I look up at the guy.  He looks so helpless and hurt.  They are married.  “She’s had a lot to drink.  I don’t know…I was just sitting there looking at everyone.”  He seems so clueless and innocent.

Ok, here we go. I turn back to her, get close to her ear.   “I know I know, hon.  Guys. Whatta ya do with them?  Do you think you can stand up? Can you try?”  I prod.  She begins a string of alien jibberish filled with accusations and conviction for the next 3 minutes, then turns to mush, sobbing.

Me and the husband, now flanking her, get her upright after a bit of a struggle.  I try to wipe away some of the mascara streaks she acquired.  They are actually a cute couple. Just as she is about to take a step that would surely lead her back on her face, he catches her in his arms.

“Baby I love you so much, I’m sorry if I looked at some girl.  I didn’t mean to.”

“Reahhhhly?  Ohhh  Iah  looovve youuu t-t-too.”

“Oh I love you more.”

“Noooh,  Iah do…”

“No I do. I’m so sorry.”

“Noooh,  I ahmmm…”

Okey Dokey, unbelievable.  Enough of this sappy stuff.  Time to leave.   I salute him, bow, and turn to leave.  As I walk off he shouts out to me.

I turn around.

He is still gallantly hanging onto her.  She is flailing one arm in an attempt to wave, and they are both shouting out thank you.

Happy New Year!

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