New Year's Resolution 1989

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  New Year's eve is my favorite among all other celebrations. It's a special occasion to share with family and friends the joy of having lived another year. It also lends itself as a vehicle to reflect on previous year's events, to set new goals and to commit ourselves to a new set of resolutions. Of all New Year celebrations, 1989's was the best.

That year, I decided to spend the holiday season in Puerto Rico, with family and friends. It had been long since I visited the island last, and celebrating among my relatives had a very positive and joyful effect on my outlook for 1989.

The living room in my sister's home filled slowly with the sound of cheerful conversation, and in the air lingered the aroma of rice with pigeon peas, boiled yams, sausages and roast. Family members and close friends arrived offering with mechanical repetition, season's greetings, pausing briefly to embrace everyone in the room and proceeding to take their seats, as would be expected at a family reunion, in a clustering fashion.

My sisters Bernardette and Amelia, worked industriously in the kitchen making last minute preparations for the party. Amelia, the youngest, divided her time equally between work in the kitchen and organizing games for the children. She hurried across the living room to intercept a runaway tricycle as I maneuvered around Darthvader, an erector set and a skateboard to the kitchen.

The fluorescent lights in the kitchen accented Bernardette's tanned complexion and gave her face a look of beauty and youth. I offered help, and was immediately rewarded with a warm embrace, a gentle shove and a warning to "stay out of the kitchen".

My aunts gathered around grandmother Amelia, listening intensely to her melodical voice as she told accounts of the way things used to be.

Men gathered together in smaller groups and discussed politics, business and basketball.

I explored every face and tried to devise an equation to measure the rate of change on their faces since the last time I saw them. As if on a strip of film, I counted the frames in-between and realized it had been precisely three years.

Couples, young and old now gathered in the center of the room to dance. Others sat by, clapping their hands to the beat of the music and singing along verses of an old Spanish Christmas song.

As I listened, my thoughts drifted elsewhere. I felt detached from the surroundings and among all my loved ones felt lonely. I left the house unnoticed to get a little fresh air. I walked by the garden, halfway down a hill and sat to admire the scenery. Rolling hills bathed in moonlight pressed firmly against a clear starry sky. The night was filled with an overture of insects and the air was filled with the aroma of a million tropical flowers. I leaned back and was embraced by the feeling of cool humid grass on my back, neck and arms. The stars seemed to stare at me patiently awaiting my next move.

I decided to use the sky as a board to plan my next year. I thought that anything of real value I drew on the face of the firmament would remain in plain imaginary sight and anything of little or no value would simply fade in the background to be absorbed by the stars.

With a motion of my index finger, I drew an imaginary "1988" as the starting point and closed my eyes. Through my mind raced with analytical precision the events of the previous year, which brought me to that particular instant in time. I carefully weighed all that was good and bad, made a sum of each column and deposited the difference somewhere, deep in my heart.

Another quick movement of my finger scratched through the first year and drew "1989". I listed in sequence my new priorities; college education, professional development and part-time employment. These I drew without a problem, but no matter how hard I tried, I just could not write the word "romance".

I lay quietly, admiring the scenery not aware of time when I heard Bernardette's voice call out my name near-by. I stood, walked toward her and in an apologetic tone said, "Sorry, guess I lost track of time". She replied "Let's go back to the house, its almost midnight".

On our way back to the house I paused briefly for a last glance at the stars. I felt Bernardette's hand reach for mine and no longer felt lonely.

We arrived at the house in the middle of the old year's final countdown; four, three, two, one, Happy New Year!

A few days later I wrote a letter to Bernardette. In the letter, I thanked her for the very best New Year's celebration of my life. I shared with her my achievements at work, my new part time job and explained my new "theory of relativity". That is, "the number of new wrinkles around my eyes was directly proportional to the total number of credits I was taking at any particular time".

Ed Zayas