I remember the silence.
I know there were bangs and shouts and thunder and screams, but I remember the silence, the stillness of black skies and white snow and that space between time when you’re neither yesterday nor tomorrow, neither last year or next.
I remember midnight.
I remember clustered in the kitchen, television blaring, sparkling white wine and counting down the seconds until the future.
And we’d run into the yard with mittens and scarves, setting fire to bottle rockets then dashing back into the house before the explosion, before the cold could take us.
The driveway rose up toward the road in a curve, and we’d angle the rockets against the hump and send them sailing and sputtering across the street, four lane highway nearly deserted, fire arcing low over incoming cars that blared their horns as they passed.
And 2am when there had been a bit too much drinking, and the boys deciding it was too cold outside, and instead lighting bottle rockets from the kitchen, yanking open the sliding glass door to toss them out into the night, slamming the door closed again before the rockets could come spinning back in.
Coiling snakes that filled the sky with acrid smoke, and a little cardboard train that was supposed to race across the ground when you lit the wick, only the ground wasn’t level and the train derailed.
And neighbors coming over, indignant, to complain about the bottle rockets that had landed on their roof.
And sometimes we’d all pile into the car, six or seven of us in a car built for four, everyone crammed in each other’s laps or squeezed onto the floorboard, and we’d go looking for fireworks, winding through the streets and suburbs in our hats and mittens and scarves to find the best display, to chat with neighbors we saw only once a year, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
“See you next year!” the kids would squeal at 11:59.
2006 to 2007 was spent sobbing, Christmas Curse, grandma then dog then rat then cat all dead in a single month.
2007 to 2008 was spent in transit, bus to Chicago caught in the storm, blinding white, and I should have gotten in at 9pm but only even reached my train at 11:30, stumbling into my friend’s house just minutes before the clock struck twelve, and I couldn’t think of any more appropriate way to spend my New Year.
2008 and the clock is ticking, not very long now.
Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two.