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Mount Creative Writers

A New New Year's Tradition

Chelsea Baranoski
MSM Class of 2010

(1/2012) Sara had been looking forward to New Yearís Eve ever since last January, when she and her best friend Tina decided that they would never spend another New Yearís Eve sitting on the couch again. No more watching Dick Clarkís New Yearís Rockiní Eve on T.V. and wishing they were at a wild party or downtown watching fireworks with a significant other. No more sitting around in pajamas and falling asleep before the crystal ball dropped in Times Square. Isnít New Yearís Eve about celebrating the year ahead and living life to its fullest? After all, they were young, and recently graduated from college. Shouldnít they be partying like itís 1999? So, they decided that New Yearís Eve 2012 would be the year that they celebrated in Times Square. Their hands might turn into icicles, and they might not be able to see Ryan Seacrest, the American Idol host and the handsome face of Dick Clarkís New Yearís Rockiní Eve, but at least they could say that they saw the ball drop in person in the city that never sleeps.

Six months before New Yearís, Sara and Tina booked their Megabus tickets from Baltimore to New York City. They also booked their hotel with the money they had put aside in a white envelope with "DO NOT TOUCH! Party in the SQUARE!" written in bright red marker. They decided that they would cab over to the hotel after the New Yearís Eve festivities, rest up, and then spend the next day in the city shopping and walking around Central Park. Sara even printed out a map of New York City and circled all of the stores she wanted to visit.

Three months before New Yearís Eve, Sara and Tina bought their Times Square outfits. They wanted to wear shiny, sparkly dresses and high heels, but decided against it. They didnít want to turn into snowmen. Instead, they settled on matching red scarves, wool pea coats, and furry boots. They hoped that Ryan Seacrest would see their cute matching outfits and decide that it was their time to shine on camera. Maybe they could even get his autograph!

Before long, it was December and Sara and Tina were excitedly crossing the days off their calendars. They talked about their NYC trip while riding the Metro to work, during lunch, and on the Metro home. They ended every phone conversation with "Canít wait till Times Square!" The work weeks were easier because they had something to look forward to. Their coworkers thought they were crazy for wanting to spend New Yearís in Times Square. "Youíre gonna be standing out in the freezing cold and blustery wind all day!" "Youíre going to catch a cold!" "Thereís going to be so many people there; I hope you arenít claustrophobic!" "You might get pick-pocketed!" "Do you actually think youíre gonna be on T.V.?" Sara and Tina ignored their coworkers and continued the countdown to the New Year. They had a feeling it was going to be something spectacular.

*****

But, then it happened. Two days before the big day, Tina awoke with a 104-degree fever. Her mother rushed her to Dr. Lamara, who diagnosed her with the flu. "The best thing for you to do is stay in bed, rest up, and drink plenty of fluids," Dr. Lamara said.

"But, I have New Yearís Eve plans. Do you think Iíll be well enough to go to Times Square?" Tina asked, tears welling up in her dark brown eyes.

"Iím sorry, Tina, but your fever will probably last for at least three days. And even if your fever did disappear, it would not be a good idea to stay outside in the cold with a crowd of people. You need to rest," Dr. Lamara said, patting Tinaís hand.

"But Ė Iíve been Ė planning this Ė for over Ė a year," Tina said between sobs. "Why did this need to happen now? All those years I spent on the couch Ė it wouldnít have even mattered if I had the flu. Now, I finally plan somethingÖ."

"Now, now. Count your blessings. The flu will go away and you will get better. You can always go to Times Square another year," Dr. Lamara said in a soothing voice.

"I suppose youíre right," Tina sighed.

*****

That night, Tina called Sara. "I canít go, Sara."

"Go where? If youíre talking about the mall tonight, itís okay. I decided not to go anyway. I need to get my rest before Times Square," Sara chattered. "I canít wait! Itís going to be so-so-so fantastic! Epic!"

"Not the mall, Sara. Times Square," Tina whispered.

"Times Square? Seriously? What happened? Are you okay?" Sara asked, a worried tone taking the place of the excitement she felt only a few seconds before.

"I have the flu."

Sara could hear Tina sobbing on the other end of the phone. "Itís okay, Tina. Calm down. We can go next year. We can try to cancel our Megabus tickets or give them to someone elseÖ."

"I should have gotten my flu shot. If I didnít have such a stupid fear of needles, this would never have happened," Tina moaned.

"Itís okay, Tina. Iím just glad youíll be okay."

"So, youíre n-not mad that we c-canít go to Times Square? And b-be on T.V.? And s-see Ryan Seacrest and awesome m-music performances?"

"Weíve been friends for ten years now. Of course not!" Sara exclaimed.

*****

When Sara hung up the phone, her stomach tossed and turned like laundry in a washing machine. She wanted this New Yearís Eve to be perfect, but now Tina would likely be lying in a bed with a bowl of chicken noodle soup. If only she could devise a plan to make Tina feel better.

*****

Sara arrived at Tinaís house at 9:00 p.m. carrying a cardboard cutout and two grocery bags: one filled with chocolate, buttered popcorn, sodas, and a CD compilation of Tinaís favorite dance music and the other filled with a red scarf, a wool pea coat, furry boots, and snowflake decorations.

Sara tiptoed to Tinaís bedroom door and opened it a crack. Tina was snoring like she had been asleep for the last ten years. Excellent. Sara walked in, being careful not to step on any creaky floorboards. Thankfully, Tina was a heavy sleeper, so she could begin the room transformation without having to look over her shoulder every fifteen seconds to make sure that Tina was still wrapped up in her covers, eyes closed, mouth hanging open, one arm sprawled across the pillow. Sara hung white paper snowflakes from the ceiling, placed the chocolate and popcorn on Tinaís nightstand, popped the dance music in the CD player, and turned the thermostat down to 50 degrees. Sara sat on the floor playing games on her phone until the temperature descended from bearable to chilly to freezing. At last, Tina wriggled in her sleep, opening one eye so she could bundle up with the comforter. When she saw Tina, she flipped her lid.

"How did you get in here? What are you doing here? Why is it so cold here?" Tina asked, the words gliding out of her mouth a mile a minute.

"One, your mom let me in. Two, I thought we could still have a Times Square New Yearís Eve. Three, itís winter; of course itís going to be freezing in Times Square! Anymore questions?" Sara winked.

"Yeah. Why is there a silver disco ball on the ceiling? And why are all those cotton balls on the floor and in the windowsill? Are we going to be taking the polish off our nails?"

"Itís not a disco ball. It will drop at midnight, so be careful you donít hit your head! And those arenít cotton balls; theyíre snow! New York City just got a pretty epic snowfall! Ryan Seacrest is going to be so cold out there. Thatís right; I have someone I want you to meet." Sara walked out into the hallway and returned with a giant cardboard cutout of the American Idol host. "Ryan, meet Tina. Sheís been waiting to meet you for a very long time." Sara walked the cardboard cutout over to Tinaís bed.

Tina laughed and a smile lit up her face like she had just won the lottery. "Good to finally meet you, Ryan. You look a lot shorter in person!" She giggled at her celebrity crush. "I canít believe you did all this, Sara! Chocolate, popcorn, snowflakesÖAnd itís so cold, it really does feel like Times Square in here!"

"And letís not forget the musical performances!" Sara cranked up the CD player and started bobbing her head to the music and dancing around the room, pausing only to unpack the scarf, coat, and boots, and toss them at Tina. "I think youíll need these."

Tina decked herself out in the winter garb and pulled Sara into a teddy bear hug mid-dance. "Thanks, Sara. I will always remember my first New Yearís Eve in Times Square. I think we may have started a new tradition."

"I think we have. Hereís to many more New Yearís Eves in NYC! And you know what the best part is?" Sara asked.

"What? Ryan Seacrest?"

"Nope. If we get too cold, we can just turn on the heat."

Chelsea was the 2010 recipient of the
Mountís William Heath Creative Writing Award

Read other articles by Chelsea Baranoski