Ringing in the New Year

As 2020 came to a close, our New Year’s celebration was a small affair. Several glasses of bourbon, a bottle of tequila, tacos, and four boxes of pizza were split amongst five friends as we drank ourselves into a stupor. When the bell rang midnight, entering us into the New Year, Katie’s husband failed to kiss his wife and I received a peck from her instead. I can’t argue given my only other choice was Ron, who after a good five glasses of bourbon, drunkenly confessed his love and proposed to me. Several rejections later, he pecked Katie’s husband on the lips. Given this was my third encounter with Ron, accepting a drunken marriage proposal wasn’t best for our budding acquaintanceship. Another glass of champagne and a reflection over my failed love life over the past year would’ve done the trick though.

Despite the size and manner of celebration, this was the first New Year’s Eve – within recent memory – that I was happy. Reflecting on the past couple of years, I’ve never shared a New Year’s kiss that had me brimming with excitement about the prospects the new year had to offer. Though I can’t forget when I celebrated New Year 2019 in Tennessee.

Two years ago, Randy and I were invited with a group to go down to Nashville to celebrate the New Year. The best part of that trip was the wings I devoured during our first night in Nashville. I will never forget the tanginess of barbecue slathered over the skin, crispy gold. I still fantasize about those wings, no other place has satisfied me the same way… and before I go on an innuendo-filled tangent, I must stress that I only drank two beers that night. The rest of the group was on varying degrees of intoxication. Katie consumed 2-3 beers, Randy and I were fairly sober with two, Katie’s husband and two friends were beyond tipsy. For this story’s sake, the two friends will be Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.

As the night wore on, we stumbled out of the bar. Tweedle-Dee was convinced he was sober enough to drive and ignored us as we argued against him. Tweedle-Dum and Katie’s husband walked back to our Airbnb. During the commotion of convincing Tweedle-Dee not to drive, I jokingly stated that Katie and I were going to go get a tattoo at a shop next door. As the men continued to neglect us, we walked towards the tattoo shop to convince them we were serious. Randy looked at me with doubt, and in my stubborn determination to prove him wrong, I walked into the tattoo shop. Katie followed and we looked at each other while we stood in the waiting room. “Want to get a tattoo?”

To this day, Katie was convinced she was too drunk to have part-taken in this agreement, but the papers she signed state otherwise. Randy was filled with skepticism as we skimmed through our paperwork. “Want to get a star tattoo?” I asked Katie, figuring it suited both of us. “Yeah!”

Normally it is ill-advised to get a tattoo after drinking. Normally a tattoo should require some thought. Normally a friendship tattoo should take some consideration. In 5 minutes, we paid no heed to “what-normally-should-be-done” and commenced to get our first tattoos. Randy resigned as he handed the tattoo artist cash since Katie and I were unable to use our credit cards. I sat in the chair and winced as the artist traced a small star on my left middle finger. Katie opted for a tattoo on her heel, well out of sight. The process was anti-climatic with no dawning realization that I permanently inked my body out of stubbornness.

On our way back to the Airbnb, Katie and I were giggling about what we had done. “My husband is going to be so mad!” Katie chuckled. As we entered the doorway, Katie rushed to the bathroom and when I turned the corner to the kitchen, I screamed. “Randy! Come here! Katie, get out of the bathroom! OH MY GOD, KATIE!!!”

The kitchen was covered with dust and in the center of the floor was a large piece of drywall. A gaping hole was in the center of the kitchen ceiling. I turned to see Katie’s husband, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum laughing. Katie ran out of the bathroom and screamed in shock. The rest of the idiots were consumed in a fit of hysterics as we looked on in horror.

In the note left behind for the Airbnb host, the story was the guys heard a noise coming from the attic late at night. While they investigated the source of the commotion, one of them fell through the attic. In reality, the guys thought – scratch that, there was no thought – the guys decided to investigate the attic. Because why not while you’re hammered. Instead of walking on the joists, Tweedle-Dum stepped on the drywall and fell through to their kitchen. I later found my camera was moved and a quick scroll through the images showed the story of Tweedle-Dee finding my camera and photographing Katie’s husband and Tweedle-Dum’s adventure into someone else’s attic. The last couple seconds before drunken stupidity ensued.

The following day was New Year’s Eve and the men spent the majority of the day fixing the kitchen ceiling while Katie and I drove through some of Nashville’s attractions. That night we decided to head out to Broadway, a street brimming with bars. The allure of lights and throngs of people promised a good time as we searched for the perfect bar to settle in. I hazily remember grabbing a bite to eat before heading up to the rooftop lounge to celebrate with the rest of Nashville.

Without delving too much into detail, all I will say is my relationship with Randy was the embodiment of toxicity. With little to no alcohol in our system, we managed to fight our way into the new year after a quick peck on the lips. The rest of the group was ready to move on to another bar and we all ended up watching a live country band in a dark crowded room. I was ready to retire at that point because I, like any decent human, loathe country music. Randy and I quickly made our way back to the exit and onto the streets. We strolled through the city and let me tell you, Nashville during the New Year, is no fun with only a shot of liquor already digesting through your system. Several ambulance cars rushed by as men and women alike were passed out on the sidewalks. Determined to get back to our Airbnb, Randy and I walked a mile or so to the nearest gas station away from Broadway to call an Uber.

Inside the gas station, groups of people stood by the restroom and I went to join them. The group quickly dissipated as we realized both bathrooms were covered in human feces. I crossed my legs outside in the cold praying for an Uber to arrive before I attempted to go in the bushes. Within five minutes, God answered my prayers. At the Airbnb, I buried myself under the covers ready to get the year over with when I heard yelling outside the house. Katie busted in the room, a drunk fit of rage as she sloppily told me how Tweedle-Dee slammed the car door on her ankle. My patience was waning and for a split second I was worried in 2019 I would be doing time after I gave Tweedle-Dee a piece of my mind.

To wrap up our little vacation, we somberly drove back home until I had to dial 911. A car had spun off the highway and from what I could gather in those split seconds, the driver was very much injured. “Did you pull over to help the driver?” the operator asked in annoyance. “No.. he was on the other side of the road and I’m not a medical professional!” I was exasperated at this point and prayed the ambulance would get there on time.

Reflecting on this trip has me so thankful I was surrounded by fun people to ring in 2021, one of my best friend’s was my New Year’s kiss, and most importantly, I was near a clean bathroom. 2019 and 2020 were some of my hardest years and I was forced to grow in many ways. I faced multiple failures, heartbreak, and betrayals. A large part of me didn’t want to write what I was going through because it’s hard being honest to yourself. I didn’t realize how scared I was that people would perceive me as a failure or laugh at my misfortune because of their twisted outlook. Like the rest of the world, I’m ready to put a close on 2020.

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