About 15 years ago, I spent New Year’s Eve with my best friend at my place. It was a nice place, in a Helsinki suburb, a ten-minute train ride from downtown Helsinki. We made some food, we called up another buddy to come over – he did, briefly – and we danced to the Doors.
“You know what my mother said when I told her about us hanging out at New Year’s?” my buddy asked me.
I had no idea.
“She said that she felt bad for us, ‘two miserable bachelors, alone at New Year’s’,” he added, and we laughed.
Hah. Miserable? We weren’t lonely. We weren’t losers. We were wild and crazy guys.
So wild that by midnight, we stood on the balcony of my apartment, and since we didn’t have any fireworks, we simply threw down burning matches.
Eleven months and 3 weeks later, the two of us talked on the phone about our plans for New Year’s Eve. Under normal circumstances we probably would have got together, possibly in his downtown apartment, and we would have danced to the Doors and had a good old time. But normal wasn’t what it used to be after I had moved to Sweden.
“I don’t know what I’ll do, I might go back to Sweden for New Year’s,” I said as casually as I could.
It was sort of a big deal for two reasons. One, it was finally the end of 1999, so we stood on the doorsteps of a new millennium. Now was the time to party like it was 1999. It was going to be the wildest and craziest of New year’s in living memory.
Two, it was a big deal because the reason I might be going back to Sweden for the big event wasn’t so I could hear Europe perform Final Countdown in Stockholm’s Old Town, but because there was this girl who had sort of invited me to a New Year’s party.
My buddy was also contemplating spending New Year’s with some friends, and especially one particularly good lady friend I had only heard stories of. Of course, I, at least, was faking it. I had no plans to stay in Finland, and had already booked my return trip to Sweden. I think he was faking his contemplation as well. He was going for sure.
I was mesmerized by the young lady in question. We had spent countless of hours together, walking around Stockholm, talking. We had exchanged hundreds of emails, and, yes, we had kissed. When I left for Finland for Xmas, she had casually mentioned a New Year’s party to me.
“Now, it’s not a big deal, but if you’re around, it’d be nice if you could come,” she had said.
“Anyway, so, I might got to this party in Sweden,” I told my best friend. I was sitting in my car at a Helsinki gas station, talking to him on the phone.
“You should go,” he said.
“Go for it,” he added, and laughed, and I assumed he was laughing at least partly at himself because he always said “go for it.” Which is what made him such a good friend.
“Yeah, I might. You, too. Go for it,” I said.
The next day, I got on the ferry to Sweden, and in the morning, as I drove off it, I drove straight to the Old Town – no, not to see Europe – where I was supposed to meet her. She came walking towards the Old Town subway station, I came driving from the other direction, and when I saw her, I honked.
She smiled and got in, and we drove to my place. The next day, we went to the New Year’s party together, and we welcomed the new millennium with a bunch of wild and crazy Swedish guys, melting tin on the stove, making predictions for the new year, as is the Finnish custom.
Twelve months later, Girlfriend (later Wife) and I spent New Year’s at my best friend’s house with him and his Girlfriend (later Wife). The miserable bachelors were a thing of the past. They were a 20th century memory.