A New Year
I had ended the year, fittingly on what I thought was a little bit of
I'd gone over my cousin's house. As is the oldest son of my grandmother's
oldest son, he is the reluctant patriarch. Since we were very close in
age, at one time we did things together, yet over the years we'd gone
separate ways, now an uneasy wariness separates us. Ghosts from the past,
filled with disappointments, and haunted by unfulfilled expectations.
never really desired to live there. My grandmother's will says it's to
divided between her favorite sons. But the house is his, simply because
his wife and his stepson live there.
But it was new years, and he invited all some of the family, perhaps
gesture of goodwill, yet I'd like to think that despite all the
disappointments he still wants to be amongst family. His wife had cooked
dinner for us, we talked, complimented his wife's tastes in decorating,
watched his tv, and played a few games. Yet we left early. The members
family wanting to be home before midnight, to avoid a night when there
be drunks, or other un-pleasantries out disrupting the night. My uncle
me back to my grandmother's house.
During the short drive back I thought I'd go onto campus and go up to
stadium and watch new years from there. As I was getting dropped off I
my aunt if they thought it was a good idea. My uncle replied, that it's
risk/reward thing. They probably didn't see too much of a point to going
in the rain, late at night, in a gritty urban environment, just to be
of some hill at the stroke of midnight.
Since I'd lived there for five years in my own college days, and trekked
home the same way from the library. If I was to go out tonight, I'd have
walk down a street populated by drunks, dope dealers, and vagrants. Yet,
wanting to spend it by myself watching it on television, I grabbed my
and I went out anyways.
I walked down Telegraph avenue. There was a typical cast of characters
haunting the street. I passed an open bar, with a crowd of people milling
around outside, smoking their cigarettes. I paused, thinking if I wanted
go in. Although it seemed to be happening, and certainly would provide
respite from the emptiness which was beginning expand within my chest,
decided to move on. Sometimes you can feel most alone amongst the biggest
crowd of people.
Instead I continued down the street onto campus, past Sproul hall, through
Sather gate, and then slowly up the hill. The rain began to come down
harder. I stopped and sat on the steps below the campanile. The stairs
wet, so I began to pace back and forth. I could start to here explosions
the distance. War correspondents tell of nights when there is a battle
raging far into the distance that there is a crackle and rumble in the
which sounds similar to a fireworks show. Looking out towards the bay,
strained to catch a glimpse of anything. Fog was almost completely covering
the bridge, the rain was beginning to soak into my coat. I got up from
steps and too refuge underneath a small awning.
About 15 minutes before midnight, I saw a glowing light in the distance.
was an soft errie blue green neon sort of light, not a bright white light,
nor a flashlight, or a lantern, or even a candle. I flashed my lamp towards
the shapes in the shadows, to see what was out there in the distance.
lights became four, and started to move towards me. The bells in the tower
began to play a somber concert. The glowing lights turned out to be the
champagne glasses of a quiet group of revelers.
A few minutes before midnight, the rain seemed to stop, the fog began
life, and I could look down between the buildings and see the Golden Gate.
Even the stars were beginning to come out. The people with the glowing
glasses popped the cork on a bottle of champagne. The concert from the
carillon stopped. A single bell counted down, 12 gongs over 24 seconds.
the end I heard them say "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit." three times,
The carrilon began another somber song, ringing in the new year. At the
our impromptu group, clapped for the carrilionist, not knowing if he could
hear us high in the tower. As the carilonist came down, and we complimented
the song, he told us that the bells playing at midnight isn't something
happens very often. Yet tonight was special.
We parted ways, the fog again covered the bridge and the rain began to
again. I slowly made my way back. Despite my initial uncertainty about
this year would end. It's rather fitting, that things do work out, and
there's not certain resolute ending. Only promise of things to come.