I just came home from a New Year’s Eve party, consisting mostly of folks at least 10 years younger than me, most of whom do not have children. It was a great little party – vintage dresses (and jackets), good wine, great conversation. These friends, neighbors, and acquaintances inspire me, give me hope, and make me glad to be in this community. And, while at this party, I recollected a New Years Eve about 17 years ago when William and I were dating (and closer to tonight’s age group).
On that particular New Years Eve, we got word in the morning there would be a team contest in the community to build, during the day, a structure that would carry you down the mountain from the top of the gap to the bottom (about 2 miles of steep, windy road). Not just a contest, but a race – starting at midnight – organized by some of the young people. William and I were a team (we had started dating that fall) and he found some old metal wheels on two axles. He built a small car around those wheels during the day, with some assistance from me. By late afternoon, we had a nice , very heavy, little wooden car with metal wheels to drive down the mountain at midnight. I may have, at that point, voiced a concern that this little car did not have any brakes. So, we spent the next few hours trying to fashion some kind of breaking system. By eleven, we were ready, and we hauled the car up the gap in William’s truck. There were maybe 15 other vehicles ready to go. Every vehicle had a team, and there was a lot of very good-natured trash talking. We started off at midnight, with someone at the bottom and top of the gap stopping cars. William and I started off a little bit slow, but quickly gained momentum, as our very heavy metal wheels gave in to the force of gravity. Apparently, we were a sight to see. Flying down the mountain as thunderous metal wheels shot sparks off our car as we flew over the pavement. We overtook everyone, but on the second to the last curve in the road, our speed and lack of brakes (William’s boot heels were not the best brakes and got quite wore out) caused us to careen into the bank. We recovered as quickly as possible, but not soon enough for Aaron’s (of Gaining Ground Farm) team to pass us and win the glory. Their glory, however, was short lived, because irate drivers held up by our illegal road block had called the police who were waiting for the winners at the bottom. No one got in any trouble, but Aaron got a scolding from the police. Not harsh enough to prevent him from organizing another race the next year. Which William and I also participated in – but second place on the inaugural event was as good as we ever did. The police were more fierce in their scolding the second year, so the Hickory Nut Gap race never happened again as far as I know. And that crazy (dangerous) car we built was disassembled for other building projects, I think.
Those years of late and fun New Year’s Eves were wonderful. I loved the carefree-ness of it. I loved sleeping in late the next day. I loved being with people who were exciting and excited.
I don’t really care much to stay up till midnight on New Year’s anymore. I get tired around 10:30 (unless I have some project fueling my excitement!) and I don’t often feel like staying up talking and hanging out. Maybe because I don’t force myself to (and perhaps I should occasionally). Maybe because I have only had a handful of nights in the last 10 years where I slept through the entire night – and I’m just too tired. Maybe because I know my alarm will go off at 6:30 and it consists of a voice saying “Mom, Mom, what’s for breakfast?” Maybe I just want to get in bed and read Mansfield Park and be alone for a little while. Either way, I am ok with it for now. I love hanging out with those exciting and excited (slightly) younger people, and still getting to bed early. I love my wake up call and the snuggles that might be needed in the middle of the night. I love this part, too.
Here’s to wishing you a wonderful New Year – whether you stayed up to ring in 2016 (and I kind of hope you did!) or got in bed early and slept through the moment.