Ed note: The following is adapted from Ten Years Hence, originally posted on Hopeful Parents, January 1st, 2010.
Luau and I stand on a riverboat in New Orleans, ready to ring in the new millennium. I tuck into my wrap to ward off the wind. Who knew it would be so cold in New Orleans?
The smallest details stay with me. The soft pashmina of the pink wrap – the tiny crystals embroidered into its edge. I’m convinced that it’s perfect with the sparkly pink and green bracelet I found at Henri Bendel last week – vivid splashes of color against the simple black of my gown.
We travel at whim. I buy what I want.
It is so easy to spend money when you know that it will last forever.
We are old pros at this marriage thing – we’ve been at it six months now. What more could there be to know?
Since we’re far too grown-up now to be renters, we’ve started to look for an apartment to buy in Manhattan.
Wow, it’s awfully, um – cozy.
Isn’t it though? And wait til you see the water views! I’ll hold onto your legs so that you won’t fall over the railing as you stretch to see the river.
I know that we’ll settle in the city and someday we’ll have those cool urban kids – you know the ones – super stylish tots weaned on trips to the Lower East Side and the Met, fluent in subway travel, roasted chestnuts and dirty water dogs. They’ll grow up in New York – the greatest city in the world. Central park will be their back yard. They’ll thrive on the rhythm of the city.
Luau convinced me to let him make the plans for this trip to New Orleans with his friends and their wives. It’s the first and last time he will be our travel agent. I think he knew his career would be short-lived when the ‘quaint little inn in the French quarter’ that he booked for us turned out to be the Ramada Inn. They run out of toilet paper on our second night.
Luau insists on telling anyone who will listen that it isn’t really the turn of the millennium. Technically this is the last year of the old millennium; next year will be the first of the new one. Fine, Mr Pythagoras, but the rest of us like round numbers. Go with it.
I’m exhausted. I paste on a smile, but I’ve never really liked these kinds of things. The forced revelry, the unrealistic expectations, the sloppy, messy drunkedness of it all. Even now, I feel like an old soul in a sea of youth. I’d just as soon be cuddled on the couch in our apartment.
Walking down Bourbon Street on the way to the boat I held tight to the back of Luau’s jacket. I’m tiny. Below shoulder level, crowds close in. Drunken revelers swayed and swooned and fell into each other. I fought to keep up with Luau and his friends as my stilettos were swallowed by the cobblestones.
At the stroke of midnight, Luau will stand behind me and place a diamond pendant around my neck, just like the man does in the commercial that makes me cry every time I see it. His friends will lovingly flip him off when their wives turn to them one at a time and ask, ‘Why don’t you do stuff like that?’
We will all laugh together as I worry the new diamond between my fingers.
I will flinch at midnight, waiting. I will search the shoreline for signs of – well, something. Y2K is supposed to wreak havoc on us all. I will wait – standing stock still for a moment as if ready to absorb a shock.
I have no idea that I will be pregnant within a year. I don’t know that we will leave the city before the baby comes because I will have an almost violent need to nest in the country – to make my way back to my roots. I can’t imagine that I will run for the suburbs like a newly hatched turtle to the sea, never looking back.
I don’t know that the money won’t last forever.
I don’t know that the pink and green bracelet will lose a crystal that night. That I won’t replace it or that the bracelet will settle into a home on the bottom of an unused jewelry box until my oldest daughter will find it and beg to wear it seven years later.
I don’t know that my children will fundamentally change me. That having them will break me open and force me to reorder the pieces of who I am.
I know almost nothing about autism. I certainly don’t know how much it will inform who I will be in fifteen years. I have no idea that it will make me a better person than I am now. I just don’t think about it.
When the world doesn’t end and Y2K reveals itself to be no more than media-induced hype, I breathe a sigh of relief.
All is well. Perfect in fact. It always will be. Of course it will be.
I turn to my shiny new husband, holding onto my shiny new necklace, and – without a care in the world – I shout
HAPPY NEW YEAR!