Nguyễn Phương Hoa
12/31/2015. Exactly a year ago, I was anticipating my first American new year’s experience in New York City – a Times Square experiment. Now that I am pulling all-nighter for my early flight tomorrow (oops actually today!), let me stay awake by recounting the most humane 16 hours of my life so far.
Times Square on New Year’s Eve is an event that looks alluring, fabulous and ecstatic, of course, as seen on television only, cause TV’s magic! Although my friends and I had been warned about the super dark side of this “trip”, our young and wild curiosity drove us determined to try it out. All of us secretly knew, it would be our first, and very last time.
Indeed, it was.
Late night 12/30/2014, our group of five formed a squad of investigators to find necessary gears in preparation for Times Square. Previously we read countless reviews and browsed all existing tips and tricks to survive, learning how to dress for the cold, stay conscious, when and how to get there safely and effectively, etc. However, the most realistic, talked-about and significant topic was buying adult diapers! Who would have imagined we were going to do that for real? Yet all of us agreed to put on our dear friend – the lovely portable toilet, feeling excited to act like babies again. Absolutely that was one rare occasion when we followed the myth.
There began the never-ending search for the one-time-underwear… The squad dropped by numerous convenient stores with hope to find a decent sized pack enough for like 6-8 people. I could not remember how many stores we swang by until we burst out with relief when we finally found this amazing absorbent pack of underwear❤Look how satisfied I was back then!
The next morning, each of us took turns to change into our new underwear. It was hilarious comparing how much more bulky we looked with the magical briefs on. “We still have like 6 pieces of these left. Wish we could save and sell them next year for someone in need,” said one of us. Well at least we felt mentally ready for not visiting a restroom for at least 16 hours.
We arrived at Times Square around 10 in the freaking morning and it was already jam-packed with people streaming down from all corners and edges under huge digital screens. With some McDonald’s in hand, we tried to slip through tiny spaces and cracks among bodies. There were around 4 stages spread out on the square, supposedly one of them reserved for the artists. Welcome To New York by Taylor and occasionally Rude by Magic! playing in the background. The former since then became annoying enough to be my alarm tone just because it got replayed like a hundred times that day. We soon found out the heartbreaking fact that we chose the wrong stage to be close to (it was just another boring advertising podium)… This resulted in the next half a day mourning in the cold about whether we should use our friend down there or suppress the burning desire to release some water from our severely dehydrated bodies.
Food ran out. Coffee got cold and tasted like crap. Our so-called winter coats were literally nothing protective in the increasingly fatal weather. We were exploited by CoverGirl and Planet Fitness wearing their glittery pinky hats or waving mindlessly to show off the thin purple/yellow gloves. You might have seen me flashing by on TV last year for like half a second! But I have never felt so biting cold, starving and thirsty and sad and disappointed and wanting to quit like that ever before. It was just not worth it. At all. I could have sat comfortably in a cozy room, enjoying a mouthwatering dinner and celebrating a peacefully normal New Year’s Eve with my beloved ones. Sometimes the most mundane and simple things could bring us way more peace and happiness.
When the clock struck 12, the tiny little ball dropped, confetti fell from above onto thousands of us. I looked around, seeing couples giving each other kisses, moms and dads rising their children up high, people dancing and wishing happy new year (but honestly though, mainly PDAs…) I must admit that short couple of minutes was truly beautiful. It looked like a movie where people were in motion under the colorful rain of sparkles. Unfortunately it was also one of those moments when it felt like I was standing alone in a big crowd, in one of the most bustling places in the world.
After the naturally refrigerating process, it took us two more hours to get defrosted and away from the gigantic herd of people. We felt nothing but exhausted and regretful. But yay, one more thing off our bucket list! We kept talking over and over about that day just because some of us actually peed in our pants, some kidneys did manage to pull it through (good job yo!), and others were too numb to even notice what happened.
If you plan to be on Times Square on New Year’s Eve, just don’t. Even if you do though, chances are you would likely quit halfway, and you should.
My wiser self of 12/31/2015