Smoke and a Derailed Train on New Year’s Eve

It was New Year’s Eve in our small town’s only bar and everyone in the joint was planning to quit smoking at the stroke of midnight. So naturally, they were all smoking heavily until that time. 

That was before Massachusetts officially banned smoking in bars and nightclub. But that night the cigarette smoke hung in a thick cloud over our heads. The man in the next table chain-smoked. Quitting for the new year? I asked. Yup, he said, although he ended up sticking with the habit.

Here’s another memorable New Year’s Eve: getting stuck on a train from Boston to Philly to meet my future in-laws because another train had derailed. Most of the passengers were headed to Times Square in New York and keenly disappointed they weren’t going to make it. People got drunk. A fight broke out and the cops had to come on board.

We’ve gone to friends’ parties, First Nights, bars, and most years, especially when the kids were little, stayed home where it was quiet. As I write this on New Year’s Eve, it is snowing heavily in Taos. My neighbor across the arroyo is planning a dinner. Travel tonight will be by snowshoe. 

Resolutions? I make them year round so why bother tonight?

Reflections? It was a pretty good year. My personal life feels blessed. I have a meaningful job I like. I continue to make progress on my writing. The only blight was the loss of two people dear to me. 

For the past few days, I’ve been saying “Happy new year” to strangers such as grocery store cashiers and post office clerks. Everyone has been receptive. A happy new year. I like the sound of it myself.


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