Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
I wanted to start 2010 off with a bang. After a few visits to the shot luge and several draft Blue Moons, which tasted to me of blueberries but could’ve been just because of the presence of the word “blue” in the name and my propensity for synesthesia, I decided that starting the year off with a bang meant finding a strapping young man to lay one on when the ball dropped.
This should’ve been more difficult than it was. I showed up to the party as the date of my best friend, Sarah, and most of those in attendance had lips that were firmly committed to another at the moment of midnight. But I knew exactly who I wanted to spend the first minute of 2010 kissing. He was the son of the couple throwing the party. He had been pointed out to me as an ex of Sarah’s sister several months prior at another party, but I wouldn’t meet him until this night, when I showed up at his parents’ house on the eve of 2010.
The problem was, I was sure I’d blown it with him right off the bat. He and his brother graciously welcomed me to the party and urged me to try their father’s ribs, which were just about to come off the grill. I, however, have a tendency toward prissiness–my older sister’s nickname for me is, in fact, “Miss Priss”–and I told them that I don’t really like ribs because they make me feel like a dog, eating meat off a bone with my teeth like that. They politely excused themselves from my presence not too long after those words escaped my mouth. Now, almost year later, I fully recognize the enormity of my faux pas: their father’s ribs are unbelievably delicious, would be award-winning if entered into a contest, and only a fool would turn them down because tearing the sweet, smoky flesh directly off of the bone is presumably uncivilized.
I helped myself to chili instead. It was freezing cold outside, which is rather unusual for Austin even in late December, and though the party was centralized around the Blue Moon keg, which was located outside on the deck, the wind whipping around the house made being outside for longer than the time it took to refill a cup unbearable. I had, as usual, dressed inappropriately for the weather, in a sleeveless silk taffeta leopard print dress that flared out at my waist and fell above my knees, black tights, and black heels. Some people had also dressed in cocktail party attire, and a few people had gone way overboard with formal wear, but most everyone else was in jeans and sweaters.
Sarah and I spent most of the evening by the large fireplace in the den fighting off the chill we suffered when refilling our cups, where country music was blaring and there was a small Christmas tree with wooden ornaments. We two-stepped together, or what we called two-stepping but was probably more like an improvised off-time waltz. Sarah led. In between dances, we’d converse and laugh with whomever came through the room. Everyone was in such remarkably high spirits, though maybe that was all the booze. Strangers became fast friends and, as the evening and the booze wore on, confidantes.
Once I was satisfactorily warmed by all the alcohol, or at least was intoxicated enough not to mind the cold too much, I ventured outside to help my brand-new friend Cory set off some fireworks. I could barely walk straight, but that what’s made it so fun–the danger of handling fire with my clumsy, numb fingers, the thrill of running away once the fuse was sparking, the shock of the loud BOOM every time a shell successfully detonated. My heels kept getting stuck in the grass, so I removed them and ran on the freezing ground barefoot, shrieking and laughing.
At about a quarter ’til midnight I was back inside talking to another brand-new friend and declared to her that it was time to find someone to kiss. I turned on my heels and walked directly to him. Somehow I knew he was at that moment near the keg. He had spent the evening always barely out of sight, in another room, talking to another group, managing the party, refilling cups, encouraging visits to the shot luge, but I was constantly aware of his presence. Much too uninhibited to question my actions or worry for a second about rejection, I interrupted a conversation he was having and asked, “Who are you kissing at midnight?”
Without missing a beat, he looked me directly in the eye and replied, “You.” I grinned and ran back inside because I didn’t want to tarnish the moment with any sort of awkwardness or small talk or clinging. He was, after all, a stranger. A stranger I hardly knew anything about. A stranger whom I’d just hit on. A stranger whom the desire to kiss was overwhelming.
The countdown approached, and everyone gathered on the deck. The replay of the New York Times Square ball drop was blasting from the television just inside the sliding glass door. He once again wasn’t in sight, and this time I didn’t know where he was. I figured he’d chickened out or maybe was just being polite when he agreed to kiss me and now was trying to avoid me, but I brushed it off and began the countdown to 2010. At midnight there was so much hugging and celebration that I didn’t mind too much that I was actually beginning the year by being stood up, which was hardly the bang I’d been hoping for.
But then there he was. First our eyes met and then our lips. It was a quick, close-mouthed kiss, but his lips were so warm and soft and the way he held me was so secure that I immediately knew I wanted another. When we pulled back I looked into his face, and though I didn’t know him at all, I could read it perfectly, probably because the mixture of surprise and desire I saw there mirrored my own. So we kissed again, a little slower this time, a little softer, lips just slightly open and then interlocking.
There’s no way I could’ve known that the bang I started 2010 off with would last the entire year. But I do know this: I can’t wait to begin 2011 the exact same way.