Do you remember what you were wearing 20 years ago today? For some reason, I seem to. I was wearing a red and beige plaid leotard shirt that had snaps in the crotch. I don’t remember if I was the original owner of the shirt. For some reason, I think that someone gave it to me. Probably because the snaps were really uncomfortable. If it was a fashion, I don’t think that it lasted long for that reason. I did like the shirt design and it fit like a leotard so that part of the shirt was comfortable. I decided to wear that shirt to the New Year’s Eve party in 1995.
The party was held at a cabin a couple of hours away. It was hosted by Paul’s frat buddy. The cabin was owned by his friend’s parents. The party was attended by Paul’s fraternity friends and an ex-girlfriend. The host of the party was a rather eccentric fellow. He had a brilliant mind with bizarre thoughts and behaviors that others at times would find offensive. He was the one who would get lost in complex philosophical theories. His responses were always atypical and hard to understand. But he had great taste in music and people seemed to like him.
I remember that his parents kept a cabin journal and that night I wrote in it. I think that it was a tacky love letter to Paul as we had met a couple months earlier. This was the first night that I heard the band Rusted Root. I went home and bought the CD. But the real reason that I remember the night so clearly was because it was the night that Paul said he would quit smoking. Smoking was a deal breaker for me.
Paul’s mother was a smoker. She smoked while pregnant with him (it wasn’t as big of a deal in the 1960’s as it is now), she smoked during his childhood, and she finally quit smoking when Paul was in college. Paul came home from college with his new habit the day his mother told him that she quit. Before he met me, Paul had smoked 7 years. When we met, he was in the process of quitting. So at the time we met I did not know that he was a smoker. Then he started back up and then quit again several times over the process of several months until New Year’s Eve in 1995. He said that when the clock struck midnight he would have his last cigarette and throw it into the bonfire extinguishing his habit forever. And that is just what he did.
Since that day, many years have past, a decade went by, and now it has been exactly 20 years. Years of New Year’s parties have flown by, but for some reason that year has stayed etched in my mind down to the clothes I was wearing.