That is to say, for as long as I can remember I have been part of a clan of people who pride themselves on being the first out of the gate at the weekend church bazaars, rummage sales, yard sales, and the like. It was not so much a matter of accessibility--though that was a big part of it--as much as it was the feeling of power by proximity. To be first in line at the door to the rec hall entrance not only guaranteed you to be the first person through that door, but also, it gave you the unique advantage of seeing the volunteers setting up the room; opening box upon box upon bag upon stack of clothes, toys, records, books, electronics, games, and ephemera.
And that's assuming there was a window in the door. Otherwise, my Babush would just crack it open a little bit so I could get a glimpse from my vantage point--about the height of the doorknob.
You were inside by association. You were vicariously attaching the second lowest price to that set of Corelle dinnerware, and you knew exactly what was going to be served on it tonight after the price tags were peeled off. You weren't in the band, but you had an all access pass that was good from 8 o'clock on--except it was 7:49, and the natives were getting restless.
And you knew that there was something in that rec room that you were going to snag before everyone else. Perhaps you saw one of the ladies carry it by to put out on the tables. Maybe it was a Snoopy AM/FM radio--lightly used, but you would change all that. And you saw it go by on the top of a stack of records--new records--and you could almost already see it sitting on the back seat of Mom's Volvo. And no matter that the radio needed batteries, and the records needed a record player, you had them.
But you didn't have them ... yet.
You were still in line.
And as you turned slowly around you saw the others behind you, clutching their bags and straightening their shawls; they meant business. They wanted in, and they wanted in bad. And they wanted in for the same reasons you did, except they had a different item in mind that they could almost already see on the backseat of their car.
And this is how I feel at 9:32 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
I am that kid again.
I got up early to get here.
And I could swear I saw a Snoopy AM/FM radio go by on a stack of records--new records--and I'm going to get it, I'm going to bring it home, and I'm going to fall in love with it.
It's going to be my favorite toy.
I'm going to bring it everywhere I go--for a time. Novelty is fickle by design.
I'm going to make sure I don't leave it out in the rain.
I'm going to make sure I don't do anything that would warrant it getting taken away from me (though usually one cannot plan these things).
I'm going to hear all kinds of music on it--music that hasn't been released yet, even.
I'm going to hear news stories about things that haven't happened yet.
And I'm probably fall asleep with it on more than one occasion.
But it's not mine yet.
It's not in my hands.
No, in my hands now is an oval, rubber change purse with a slit down the middle that I have to squeeze at each end to open. It has been on many missions with me, and this one certainly won't be its last. We make a good team--always have.
No, I'm still here at the door, with the hot breath of a hundred grandmothers filling the air in the hallway.
We all want in.
We all have our reasons.
And we will all have our shot.
And in the time it took to tell that story the clock has inched forward and the tables are almost overflowing with items that we can all use.
And I'll see you back at the car when it's all over.
Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year.
Pictures by F.A.J. taken at the 6 p.m. fireworks, downtown Northampton, MA 12/31/08