We all agreed to meet at my mom’s house in New York and spend New Year’s Eve in New York City.
The year 1995 was not a good one. I left a terrible job in Lincoln, Nebraska and blew through my savings in a little over five months. I couldn’t find a job and my apartment lease was expiring in a couple of weeks. I couldn’t pay my bills and my Ford Bronco II was repossessed. I didn’t care. I didn’t like the truck and some idiot had broken in a couple of weeks before and took my stereo. My driver’s license had been suspended for a failure to pay a speeding ticket and I no more money for food.
My only option was to take my remaining $125 and figure out the homeless thing or call my mom. I didn’t want to admit at almost 25 years of age I was a shit human being who couldn’t cope with life. I called my friend, Misty, and she helped me sell my belongings, including my Tama Rockstar drum kit my grandmother bought me.
I ended up calling my mom. She said I could move back to New York and live with her, which would at least give me food and a roof over my head. It was a terrible decision. I’ll write about it one day, but this story is about another bad decision – New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
Another friend helped me search for a car. I shoved everything I owned into a 1979 yellow station wagon and began the trek to Middletown, New York. Nearly 18 hours later, I was seven miles from home when I recognized the red and blue lights flashing in the darkness behind me.
“Shit,” I said. I can see my exit about a mile away and now I’m going to go to jail.
I had temporary stickers on my car, which were really just the date written in black sharpie on a piece of loose-leaf paper taped to my back window. I had no insurance or driver’s license. It had been 23 hours since I had any sleep.
“I guess I’ll get to sleep in jail,” I said.
I unrolled my window and pretended to look for my license and insurance. The police officer asked me where I was coming from and going to. I answered while I pretended to keep looking. The front seat was packed with miscellaneous items. Even if I had the items, I’m not sure I would have found them. The officer asked if I knew why she had pulled me over. I said no. I actually had not been speeding for several hours as I know where most of the cops hide along Highway 17.
“You don’t have any plates and I didn’t see the temp tag until I got out of the car,” she said.
“Oh yeah, I’m moving back home to Middletown from college and I just bought the car a few days ago,” I said.
The officer looked down the road. She saw the exit sign, too. She told me to have a good evening and travel safely. I thanked her, wished her a good evening and went on my way.
About 10 minutes later, I was in my mother’s driveway. I grabbed my laptop and headed inside I didn’t unpack my car because this British guy I was kind of dating, as best as you could date over the internet in 1995, was waiting online for me to let him know I arrived safely.
My friend Misty, the British guy, Pete, she was also dating online, and my British guy, Paul, had agreed before I left Nebraska that we should all meet at my mother’s house and then head into the city to have some fun.
It was almost seven months away, I didn’t have any money, and I hadn’t told my mother three other 20-somethings were going to descend on her house the day after Christmas.
The next six months were horrendous. It included the only time I’ve had to be placed in handcuffs. I logged online every day to talk to Paul, Misty, and Pete. I’d get disconnected often due to the moron my mother married about four years prior. He purposely picked up the phone so I would have to dial back in.
As December rolled around, I still had no job. I had to borrow money from my mother for my friends’ visit. Misty flew in the day before Paul and Pete. We met them at the airport, though we had to wait a long time for Pete. He had too much to drink on the plane and almost wasn’t allowed into the country. Once we were all together, we drove from Newark Airport to Niagara Falls.
Misty and I had arranged keywords to say if we were uncomfortable and would prefer to sleep in the same bed rather than split off as couples. Upon entering our hotel room, I stared at the two king-sized beds and said, “I like this bed over here, Misty.” She was supposed to agree with me, forcing the two boys to share a bed.
“Cool,” she said. “Peter and I will take this one.”
What..the..actual..fuck? I spent the night with one leg on the floor as far off the bed as I could go and got little sleep. I found out about a year later Paul had done the same.
After returning to Middletown, we took the train to Hoboken, New Jersey and transferred to the PATH train under the Hudson River and into New York City.
On New Year’s Eve, we had gone our separate ways. Paul and I did free stuff because we had little money. We were supposed to meet near a coffee shop in Times Square where Paul and I ate breakfast. Two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee/tea for 99 cents.
After wandering around for most of the day, Paul and I headed back to Times Square around 7 p.m. We couldn’t get near it. The west side of Broadway smelled like marijuana. The east side reeked of booze. We walked five blocks north and south of Times Square. There was no way in and the cops were overly threatening. We never got closer than three blocks on any side.
After several hours of trying, Paul and I gave up. Misty and Pete would be okay without us. I was sure they were among the throngs of people having a good time.
The four of us huddled around a 9-inch black and white television and watched the famous ball drop at midnight.
It is one of two times in my life I stayed awake past midnight on New Year’s Eve. The other time was 1999-2000 in Paris.
Paul and I were married five months later. Misty and Pete were married 17 months later. That day 25 years ago was fun and aggravating. I won’t ever visit Times Square again on New Year’s Eve, but if you get the chance to go, leave all your money and valuables behind, get there early, and don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want vomit on.