New Year’s Eve 1999


An old high school friend posted this in her Facebook status bar today:

So what were you doing 10 years ago? I was working at CDD, Jerry was working on a Y2K project, and I was hugely pregnant with our third child. We spent NY Eve 1999 with the Hilmer’s, waiting for the world to lose power or whatever was supposed to happen when the new century began. Hard to believe it’s been a decade already.

It suddenly occurred to me that Will and I hosted a gathering that evening. A friend rented a van so that we could all drive around together without worrying about multiple designated drivers. Since Will and I were trying to conceive, I wasn’t drinking anyway, so it hardly mattered to me. Parking, however, being an issue in the downtown because of the fireworks, I was glad to hand over driving duties.

Our friend picked people up though I don’t recall where. Perhaps our home was the central meeting place as Will and I were making breakfast for everyone after. It’s been forever ago, but I seem to recall bowling and then making our way down to Nollen Plaza. We parked near the courthouse and walked a few frigid blocks. It was freezing, and I hate fireworks*, so I shivered under Will’s arm and flinched with every pop, snapple and boom. Right as midnight struck, Will pulled a jewelry box from his pocket and gave it to me. He had tears in his eyes as he told me how much he loved me, how happy I made him and that he promised to be the best husband anyone could ever want.

The box contained a necklace, a gold chain with a heart pendant that upon closer inspection revealed the year – 2000. Every woman there made it a point to tell me how envious they were and how lucky I was at some point in the next hour. Every attached male gave Will heck for showing them up.

Around 2 A.M. we landed back at our house. It was a tiny home; 960 square feet total divided between two floors. There was barely room to turn completely around whenever the gang gathered at our place, which happened a lot in those days. We were turning into my parents, but in a better way than I remembered from my childhood.

Will had gotten one of those plug and play video games. The kind with the joystick, loaded with all the old arcade games from the 80’s. The boys competed for top score on Pac-Man and Galaxian while Will and I made pancakes and scrambled eggs.

More drinking ensued and the last guest headed out around 5.

That was the year that everyone was panicked about Y2k. Will scoffed as I made sure we had drinking water, dry goods, batteries and cash on hand, but he went along with me even so far as to fill up both our vehicles that day. He drew the line at a generator. We’d seen a picked over shelf of them at Home Depot the weekend before and I mused aloud about whether or not we needed one.

“We don’t need a generator,” Will said. “If we lose power, we’ll head out to Mom’s. She has a wood fireplace.”

Will’s mother being the last person with whom I would want to ride out the apocalypse  I said,

“We have lots of blankets and the sleeping bags are rated for -40.”

We slept late and dragged ourselves to Hy-Vee for a later breakfast in the early afternoon. And that’s all I remember. Which is funny, isn’t it? I know so many people who can quote chapter and verse on their past lives and until my friend brought it up, and then I reminisced a bit with Rob, I had forgotten pretty much all of it.

Two of the people who were there that night are dead now. Will and the wife of a friend of his. Aside from my best friend and her husband, I haven’t seen anyone else who was there since Will’s funeral or some even since before he was diagnosed with this illness which is 4 and 6 years respectively.

Time has an interesting way with life, doesn’t it?