I meant to post this on New Year’s Eve, but didn’t. It’s the thought that counts.
NYE 1999, Phila., PA
Walt said just take one. He’d been out of benzos but had offered a handful of these yellow pills, instead. “Make sure you’re someplace safe,” he said, “you’ll have about fifteen minutes at the outside.”
New Years Eve was coming up, and we’d wanted to do something fun. I didn’t know if these yellow pills were really what we had in mind. I was not into downers, as a rule. Sedatives made me sedate, and my naturally ebullient personality was sedate enough on its own. I liked things that brought me out of that super internal head space, not drove me deeper into it. But I also typically took the drugs that were in front of me, and the downers rule gave way to the “do the drugs you have” rule, every time.
Dave and I didn’t have a place. We lost our last place, and hadn’t come up with a next place. A good friend had a place, and he was taking off for a few months. He left us in charge of the house, and the cat, and didn’t make us pay.
Since Walt’s provisions were low, we managed to connect with our other guy, too, and a friend of his who had more powerful narcotics. When we finally got back to our spot, where Val and J were waiting for us, Val laughed at our stockpile. She had her own supplies, a few bundles of heroin, a handle of vodka, some bottles of Veuve Cliquot, nicked from her mom’s fridge. Whatever we had- and we had alot- paled in comparison to Val’s stash. Except, of course, for these yellow pills, although we didn’t know it at the time.
We’d been invited to a party so we all dressed up. It was themed black tie, which made it less black tie and more vintage dress up, but we didn’t care. Dave wore a tux, I wore something with sparkles, Val wore her trench coat and teetering strappy heels, and J wore jeans and a fresh hair cut. None of us wanted to go to the party, but I insisted. It seemed festive to go to a party, and relatively unfestive to sit home and suck down all the drugs and liquor until we passed out.
The party was odd, and we were pretty much unexpected guests. We’d been invited by a friend who wasn’t there yet, and as 15 minutes gave way to a half hour, and then forty five minutes, we found ourselves looking at the clock instead of chatting with other guests. We wanted to get back. We left, arriving at our temporary home before midnight. We cracked another bottle of champagne. We’d spent the day watching New Year’s being rung in all over the world, now we waited for the ball to drop in New York.
Pundits had kept up a steady banter of speculation on what would happen as the digital clocks switched to 00 from 99. But as the numbers clicked forward in Australia, time falling like dominos across international date lines, nothing spectacular happened. We played pundit, imitating their surprise, their attempts to mask their obvious disappointment.
“We’re here in Jakarta, Jim, and so far, there’ve been no nuclear meltdowns due to the Y2K switch, but the night is still young.”
“That’s the spirit Krindy, don’t give up hope, a nucular meltdown is still a possibility.”
“It sure is, Jim.”
We sat together. The four of us. We’d become a regular crew, the regular crew. It was like there was no safety unless the four of us could chill. We’d been through hell, all of us, and there would be more. We knew there would be. Hell was the standard, it was security that seemed frightening and illusive. But for now, sitting on a borrowed couch, stocked with supplies, sipping champagne, disdaining the pundits and their phony smiles, facing the beginning of a new millennium, we felt alright.
Midnight had come and gone. The millennium looked the same as the century just passed. The dead seemed no further behind us than they had the day before.
We relaxed. We laid back. We felt safe. We took the yellow pills.