New year. New memories.
For many years, along with most of America, my best friend and I would start off December by worrying about one big thing – what are we going to do on New Year’s Eve? It has been a question that has brought about many bouts of depression and anxiety, as we always had to settle for a house party that involved chips, pizza, and watching the ball drop in Times Square on TV with about 10 other people. And, every single year, we would dream about being live in Times Square instead.
The incredible thing about my best friend (Katie) and I is that we always seem to get what we want. I don’t mean to say that we are spoiled or privileged (although I often consider myself the latter). It seems that when we get an idea into our heads, someway or somehow, even if it is many years later, we get exactly what we asked for.
Which is how two days ago, on the eve of December 31st, we found ourselves right in the middle of Times Square. And, like the true champions that we are, we were there from 12 p.m. until 12 a.m.
Contrary to what they say on television, it was not one big party. Who would have guessed, right? In all honesty, we were mentally preparing ourselves for complete misery weeks in advance. Still, when it was only 3 o’clock, and we already felt sleepy, tired, and bored, we couldn’t help but ask each other, “What were we thinking?!”
We arrived, as always, later than originally planned. We were yelling to the world that we would be the first ones in line, at 9 a.m., downright unstoppable. Ha. Ha. We arrived at noon and there was already a big crowd. Naturally, I panicked because that’s just what I do. Naturally, Katie remained calm, because that’s just what she does.
There were people going in all different directions, and we ran up to one officer who said that screening was at 49th street. No one was allowed to enter without getting screened and their bag checked. We ran to 49th street, which turned out to be quite some way from where we were. I was ten feet behind Katie, panting and begging her to slow down. She would until I would catch up, and then she’d leave me and I’d be ten feet behind her once again. This continued on until I wailed about a blister, and she switched boots with me so I would shut up.
After a few more wrong turns, we got in line to be scanned with metal detectors and have our bags checked. I would like to note that all of the police officers were courteous and very helpful (go NYPD!) I was concerned that we would get in trouble for bringing in sandwiches and protein bars, but the officer just looked at us with sympathy and understanding.
We ended up in a pen with a group of tourists from France. Everyone sat down on the ground to prepare for the 12-hour wait, and Katie and I occupied ourselves with a game of Heads Up. Even the tourists from France joined in, guessing the right songs and superstars when I was incapable of doing so myself.
At around 3 p.m., we saw some movement ahead of us. The good thing about being in a small group of just two is that you’re always ready to go. So while the French tourists were gathering their belongings and pooling their party together, Katie and I jumped over their heads and ran to the front. We ended up three rows back from the front of our section. We were right in front of the ball, but were disappointed when we realized that the stage with all of the performers was behind us, and we couldn’t see anything that was going on back there. Instead, we had to watch all of the singers on a big screen, which was exactly like watching it at home.
The cool thing, however, was that we were in front of a smaller stage where the hosts were interviewing people, and we kept seeing Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy going back and forth with their squads. Jenny McCarthy was absolutely stunning. Every time one of them would pass by us, Katie and I would start screaming, “JENNNY! JEEENNNNYY! OMG, RYAAAAAN!!! RRRRAYAN!” Everyone else was super quiet. We were the only ones yelling.
But, hey, at least we caught Jenny McCarthy’s attention! I told her that she was beautiful, and she blew us kisses…
You laugh, but I live for this kind of stuff.
At around 7 p.m., they passed around hats and balloons. I almost fought a girl for a hat, felt super guilty about going all crazy lady on her, and ended up turning around and saying, “I’m sorry, do you have a hat? Here, have mine…” like an unstable person. I’m sure she didn’t think I was nuts or anything like that.
[Note to self: If you go crazy, just go crazy all the way. Don’t do that weird stuff where you switch back and forth between being a total psychopath and sweet PTA mom.]
At this same time, I was dreaming of being at home, eating food and drinking water in front of my television. Katie and I kept saying to each other, “What is the point of us being here?”
Toward 9 p.m., our spirits lifted and we decided that since we were there, we might as well make the best of it. We pulled out our balloons, put on our hats, and started to jump in place and sing out loud. Some people were grouchy, others were laying on the ground completely miserable (but determined to stay until midnight). We, on the other hand, were jamming out to Demi Lovato and Jessie J.
In the last hour, my excitement was starting to dwindle down again. I kept sitting on the ground to regain some energy. When there was only ten minutes left until 12:00, Jessie J did a beautiful cover of Imagine, and by the time she finished there were 90 seconds left until midnight, and the huge, final countdown began.
All of the regrets I had during the course of the 12 hours that I stood outside in Times Square immediately disappeared when that last countdown started. As the seconds ticked by, and everyone screamed out the numbers, the level of positive energy and anticipation was through the sky. And when the clock stroked midnight, I realized that it was all completely worth it.
We jumped, we screamed, we hugged as Times Square exploded with confetti to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
It truly was a once in a lifetime experience.
I hope you have an incredible, through-the-roof amazing 2016!