it was 4:30pm on new year’s eve in new york city, and every conceivable entrance to times square was barricaded and heavily patrolled by dozens and dozens of cops. we made friends with one officer, who (bless his heart) let us through the first row of barricades with a “good luck” and a wry smile that said “you’ll never make it into the square.” we tried several tactics at the next gate, to no avail. as we stood there musing what to do next, and determined to keep trying, a new policeman came out of nowhere and started chatting with us. i showed him this list that i had made in my phone a few weeks back (but that has been in my head for years, and certainly isn’t complete):
- times square ball drop
- kiss a stranger
- boy haircut
- write a book
- have a home of my own
- round the world trip
- be fluent in another language
- feel an earthquake
i told him the top two simply must be completed that very night. and we told him interesting facts about ourselves, and ooohed about the interesting facts he told us about himself, begged a little and mentioned how far we had come to be there, tried to be witty and charming. his slow smile hinted at the opposite of cop #1 – we could tell he really wanted to get us in. we were in cahoots. and within about 30 minutes he was escorting us to the middle of the world’s most electric party.
life goal number one – check. we anticipated the stroke of midnight for six hours. we passed the time with chatting and laughing, watching the performances and dancing to the backstreet boys, acting ridiculous to get on the jumbo-tron (successful times 5), avoiding drunkards, loving being together, and reveling in our location. i personally spent a lot of that time scoping out the prospects to complete life goal number two. a guy was selected, and he kept catching me looking at him.
the build-up led to a fantastically thrilling last few minutes. the final countdown came and the world was a blur. 2011 arrived. i hesitated, took two great strides, grabbed his face in my hands and kissed him on the mouth. then i darted away and lost myself in the crowd. life goal number two – check.
i kissed a stranger at midnight on new years eve in times square. i still get butterflies and giggle every time i think about it, and when i close my eyes i see that boy’s surprised face. i am simultaneously quite embarrassed and outrageously proud.
the confetti continued to fly and i stood there with my arms around my most beloved of friends and swayed to frank sinatra’s “new york new york.” a glittering slice of time i bottled up and stuck deep inside me.
the three of us have been together for new years eve in times square, easter at the garden tomb in jerusalem, and holi festival in the heart of india. next stop? chinese new year in china? it was so great to have sara’s brother michael with us too.
here’s to checking life goals off the bucket list and to a new year.