No ball drop at Times Square this year or silly but traditional TV lead-up. A quiet evening instead spent with some of the people I love.
We dash down sidewalks that are slick with slush, dodge around cars, taxis and buses, leap over fathomless oily puddles, and weave between pedestrians who seem purposefully and obnoxiously slow.
While getting an impacted wisdom tooth extracted I hear: things that scrape; things that whir; the oral surgeon explaining the scraping and whirring; faint 80s pop music; dry sucking sounds from the thin white tube that sucks dryly; the surgical nurse's New Year's plans; my own garbled voice; the domestic troubles of someone I don't know; the swish of boots as I move my feet slowly in pendulum motion.
It's fun watching movies or cartoons with them that they've already seen, because I like hearing them tell me what's going to happen or why I should find something funny.
The commuter train emerges from the tunnel into an urban landscape, scarred and snowed in. Steel tracks and warehouses glitter like badges in the sunlight; narrow streets curve uphill, their trees bare and crooked.
Mashed potatoes, mashed yams, mashed carrots, mashed bananas - there's something both mildly embarrassing and reassuring in eating an infant's diet while convalescing.
We work on puzzles together, and it's satisfying to see the pictures take shape - a rain forest full of reptiles, a teeming ocean, a meadow layered with birds and another with insects. He likes to put the pieces in himself, and I like watching his young mind work. Sometimes he works decisively and logically, knowing where the pieces ought to go. Other times he'll try to smush a corner piece into the center of the puzzle. Even then he's learning and confirming certain facts for himself - that some things just don't fit together, no matter how hard you try.