Old new years

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.

Partying like it’s 1999

I find it very interesting that Prince’s song 1999 released in 1982 speaks about judgment day. It goes along the lines of lets party like it’s 1999 because the following day the world could end. What I find even more interesting is that back in 1999 some people thought that when the clock ushered in the year 2000 that the world really would end. I am sure that Prince knew nothing of the Y2K scare that would grip many citizens 17 years after he released the song.

Lets rewind the clock a bit back to New Year’s Eve 1999. Wow, it feels great to be 25 again! It is a cold winter here is Wisconsin. Many are expecting that the world would end as we know it in 2000. Computers were programmed with the year 19** and they would not recognize the year 2000 and stop working. Our cars weren’t going to start. Our heat and electricity would stop working. Our pipes would freeze. Life would grind to a crashing halt and we would be forced to live like our ancestors did a century ago without the knowledge of how to do that in the dead of winter.

I was pregnant in December of 1999. I did worry a little bit about having a baby without modern technology especially since I delivered my first baby via C-section. Some friends of ours really thought that the end of the world was coming and that they needed to do everything they could to prepare for it. They bought a wood stove for an alternate heat source. They started stockpiling food and water. They bought survival gear and started teaching a survival class. When our cars wouldn’t start we would be trapped wherever we were at the time.

Most people that I knew didn’t party like it was 1999. They prayed, they got together with friends and relatives huddled around the TV watching for signs that other countries in time zones ahead of us would have problems. I remember the night well. Paul and I stayed overnight at my parents house with our oldest child who wasn’t even 2 at the time. My dad volunteered to be a civilian officer to assist police officers and firefighters if the Y2K apocalypse happened. My mom was afraid to be left home alone with my autistic brother Matt.

So while the idea of partying in the new millennium sounded great, we didn’t know what to expect. People were frightened. The next day the new year came, but the end of the world didn’t. We got into our car and drove home. People threw out all of their end of the world survival books and Y2K pamphlets, except for me. I kept a pamphlet because I thought that it might be valuable someday.