Heading off to a New Year’s party with my dad’s family is a sobering experience. I’m never a big fan of hanging out with them at the beginning of the night, but luckily I have my charm and imagination to get me through the rest.
The highway is packed with New Year’s Eve’res, mostly larger cars like the one we’re in, with families like our, driving to the lucky household that is to be the host of drunken festivities. I know not everyone drinks, but there has to be someone in each family that embarrasses the others with their less then sober exclamations of love and/or hate… We just happen to have more than our fair share.
The car is silent. My mom is sad because my younger brother has his own wife and kids to be with tonight, though he would rather it not be with his in-laws. Dad is driving, so now is the time for him to tell me everything that needs to be fixed with my car. My youngest brother is in the back messing about with his iPod. 25 miles is a long drive… Oh look someone is being pulled over.
The conversations start off relatively slow, old stories and new chisme. For those who don’t know Spanish, chisme is the nosy behind the back rumor mill product people talk about when there are enough new ears to listen. The beer is garden verity, the snacks are, too. My uncle is getting the fire ready, he asks me to help, this is how it starts. First help with the fire, then check to see of the meat has salt and before you know it I’m the one with the wooden spoon making sure it doesn’t burn.
My brain starts feeding me words and before long I’m the same old joke jousting, pun pummeling, wit whacker I always am when around people I don’t normally see. The drink, thanks to a trip to the liquor, gets stronger and subsequently the night gets a little warmer.
Nothing makes me happier and sadder than a good Mexican dish in my hands. Happy because, well it’s fucking Mexican food. Sad because for the life of me I can’t anything more than quesadilla- mind you I make a good, if not unique quesadilla, don’t I Andy? Anyway, here in front of me is a plate filled with all the goodies that make me proud to be brown; tacos de cachete, asada, pastor and belly… I don’t know from what animal though. A side of nopales and a glass of Jack Daniels finishes this New Year’s Eve.
We talk about fishing, dead friends, guns, cars, and places of times forgotten. A few jokes at each other’s expense…. A lot of jokes actually… Was that midnight? BOOM! Hundreds of fireworks explode all around us and the sky lights up; the stars disappear and are replaces by muck closer heavenly sparks of many colors. A full minute of this torrent, a minute in which we all hug and cheer and toast the birth of a new year.
Quiet settles over the night, as does the fog left over from the explosions. All the faces around me are lit up by small screens as we send cheers and love to everyone else through Facebook or texts.
Sitting closer to the fire, the soft lull of my stomach as it digests sends me into a fit of drowsiness. It’s going to be a fun year… Have to optimistic right?