John and I decided to avail ourselves of the charming opportunities the Boston arts community offers to celebrate the coming of the new year yesterday. First Night, as this excellent cacophony of events is called, starts in the morning with free access to the aquarium (which we did not make use of) and stretches all the way to fireworks and a harbor cruise at midnight (which we also did not make use of). In between those two points were a range of events including dance, music, circus, face painting, hat making, story telling, ice scultping, puppeteering, and all manner of arts events which we did enjoy, thoroughly.
We started out with some stellar story-telling. I was a little surprised to note that we were the only couple in the room without children until we got to the end of a rendition of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which the dwarf gets cuffed by the bear instead of eaten, and the two little girls move closer to the prince instead of marrying him and his brother. Those little edits clued me in to the possibility that the events might not exactly have been geared toward twenty-somethings. All the same, it was fun.
The afternoon activities merged into evening activities with a fantastic parade full of brass bands, dragons, and a broad range of vehicles to represent the last century of American history. Funny what you can say about a nation by it’s iconic cars. My favorite part of the parade was the high school band of piccolos and drums in Revolutionary War uniforms marching to “Yankee Doodle.” It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling of patriotism that I ultimately found a little disturbing, because I suddenly understood how people could psyche themselves up for marching to their deaths.
On a more cheerful note, the sound highlight of the evening came from these long, thin plastic horns that were sounded consistently by kids and teenagers as the evening went along. I don’t think a more than a minute ever passed without a plaintive bellow from one of these things. I could only think to describe the sound like a low brass section warming up, but John’s description was better: “It sounds like they’re dragging heavy furniture across a wooden floor.” This led to funny imagery of men in tuxes dragging armchairs across a stage in tune, and every noise from our armchair orchestra had us in giggles for the rest of the night.
We wandered down to the Common with the parade where families were sliding gleefully on the frozen pond where the swan boats do their thing in summer. It had the cozy feel of a Norman Rockwell painting, if someone had added neon and flashing LED grafitti to the painting. We camped out on the footbridge over the pond for a while, watching people and listening to a busker strum his guitar before the seven o’clock fireworks began.
John and I were doing very well to leave home at all, you see, so you’ll have to forgive our fuddy-duddiness that I can’t relate anything of what happened at First Night after the early fireworks show. We went out to dinner near Fenway, and from there we wandered home. I won’t tell you how many times we had to change directions trying to find Beacon St. from Park Dr. We did find our way, eventually, and were cozy at home with Ricky Gervais and a bottle of wine by ten o’clock.
I don’t think I would have managed to stay awake for the stroke of midnight if not for the appearance of our somewhat unwelcome roommate. Shortly after we got home, a little mouse dashed out from under the bed and behind the bookcase, where he spent the rest of the evening keeping my heart racing by periodically doing things like moving a little or nibbling on something. I can’t say that I’m thrilled at the fact that we still haven’t figured out how to flush him out of our tiny and crowded little living room, but at least I was still awake to say “Happy New Year!” when midnight came.