New Year's Eve 2008 (What the hell else are you going to call it?)
LUND--The day, New Years Eve day in Sweden, broke blue and light. The sun had not been out like that in over 60 days and the grey had become intolerable. We lay in bed on the morning before the new year and saw the strange blue light come past the cloaking blinds. And we went out into it to buy this and that, wine and asparagus and the last few things we needed for our small party to come. And the light was strange and hopeful. For the first time since I had arrived in the country the light seemed to shine on things instead of being separate. We walked and she took her long black leather gloves off and took my hand. We bought Hungarian champagne at the State liquor store and asparagus at the market and a few other things. We cleaned the flat and bought fireworks, packs of huge skyrockets with three-foot poles. I began to prep dinner.
She dressed in a full-length, red-sequined ball gown she had bought at the Goodwill store in Ohio and I in a raw silk, shawl-collared dinner jacket with vest. We met the guests at the door with Jell-O shots (a remarkable American invention) made with Russian vodka and strange Halal raspberry gelatin. Our guests were as follows: There was Fredrik and his girlfriend Catherine, Lena’s old friend Tatjana and her friend Katy from England. Fredrik went to journalism school with Lena and is a News-writer, Catherine is from the French and a counselor for the hearing-impaired and a potter of note, Tatjana, Swedish of Croatian descent with a law degree, works in Chiapas, Mexico as a peace observer and Katy is working on her Doctorate focusing on the way indigenous people view themselves in photographs, view photography (King’s College, Cambridge).
I made salmon en croute with pesto, herb-roasted potatoes, and steamed asparagus served with a garnish of raw, julienned carrots and drizzled with a pesto cream sauce. We began with a dish made by Fredrik and Catherine, shrimp marinated in balsamic vinegar over toast with fresh greens and a nice Rosé brought back from her aunt’s village in the south of France. With the main course we drank a Pouilly Fumé brought by Katy and for desert we had a mix of fruit and meringue and cream that someone said was Russian in origin. With it we drank the Hungarian champagne. The women were all beautiful.
A little before ten minutes to midnight we went down to a piece of public greenery at the local bus station that Lena and I had scouted out earlier that day after buying the ridiculously powerful skyrockets. We took the bombs and three bottles of champagne. Lena wore a mink coat and matching hat. I wore, with my tuxedo, the Finnish army motorcycle goggles I’d bought with agent 016 in Texas a few years before on my way to Mexico. For the minutes before and after midnight we did a lot of kissing and setting off of fairly high explosives. I liked that.
The rockets went up with military whooshes, streaked up and blew up and I was impressed for my second year in a row how the Swedes might be overly safety-conscious about most things but their fireworks were top-rate. The only one that went wrong shot out the side and almost got Anna Palmehag who had come by to wish us a happy midnight.
At the bus stop we spoke with some pretty girls, proud of their African immigrant roots, who were on their way to Malmo. They cheered America when I said where I was from. Then they cheered Zambia, Thailand, Sweden and everything else. We went home and soon everyone left. Lena and I put my Nikon on a tripod and took our New Year’s portraits. We downloaded those. Then I downloaded all the pictures from the little pocket Canon my Father gave me. We looked at the record of the night and looked at a sort of slow motion movie of the time since I have been here in Sweden. I thought that it would make an interesting movie. I thought about the pictures I would take in the next year and what an interesting movie they might make. I thought about what I might write and then wrote. Then I went to bed. Or not. But it was already four hours into the new year.