I was upstate with the bf and his family, who are like my family only in that they make fun of each other a lot, and we had ordered pizza at his brother’s place and then gone out for beers at the local bar. We were a large group: all three of the bf’s siblings, and their friends, and their mother. The bar was kind of a grimy place, full of grizzled men playing pool, blasting country tunes, and had a floor sticky with dirt and drinks. In the back, an older woman and a younger woman danced slowly and seductively together while a few boys and men watched. The bf wondered if they were mother and daughter. The bartender poured drinks into plastic cups. I’m not a late night person, and I was feeling tired and not particularly jovial. The bf kept trying to hype me up, and it wasn’t working. At 11:50, the whole gang brought our drinks outside into the freezing dark air, and it started to snow. We trudged along the edge of Lake Cloud until we saw the fire truck up ahead. The ladder was extended as high as it could go, and there was a large sparkling ball at the top waiting to drop. We nursed our drinks and stomped our feet and watched our breath in the air. Pretty soon a large crowd had gathered. When midnight struck, the ball slid, rather anti–climatically, down the ladder. We cheered and clinked our plastic cups. Then the fireworks began.
The bf looked at me. I was wearing two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, three sweaters, and a scarf over my face. Snow had reddened my face and lay wet on my eyelashes. “You look like you belong here,” he said, and kissed my cold cheek. Then we walked back in the snow to his brother’s place, patted the big black dog Begonia, and fell asleep together.