Vincent’s New Year’s Resolutions
The wind whipped through the streets of New York City with abandon. Catherine pulled her hood together with one hand and held onto her satchel with the other. She didn’t have far to go and was soon gratefully pushing open the door of her apartment building.
“Hi, George! Got any plans to celebrate tonight?” She stopped by the doorman’s desk.
“No, Miss Chandler. My style of celebration is with a glass a wine and a good movie on television.” He smiled. “It must be age, but I don’t get a thrill partying to wee hours anymore. Besides, New Year’s celebration make me melancholy.”
“It makes me think of everything I didn’t get accomplished, and how expectations of every year are just that – expectations.”
“That’s pretty cynical, George. Don’t you feel the hope offered by a clean slate?”
“You sound like my boss!” she laughed. “Well, Happy New Year, anyway!”
“The same to you, Miss Chandler. And thank you for your generous Christmas check. But thank you even more for smiling at me every day and asking about me. To so many in this building, I’m invisible.”
“It’s their loss, George. And, you’re welcome. And thank you for not asking ‘is it cold enough for you?’ like everyone else today!”
He laughed, and shook his head. “Never! Have a good evening.”
I plan to! She thought to herself.
She opened her door, dropped her satchel, and shrugged out of her coat. She headed to her kitchen to put on the kettle while she changed her clothes. A cup of tea to warm up before heading down to the tunnels was in order.
In record time, she showered and changed into warm jeans, a sweater, and her hiking boots. She sighed as she looked in the mirror. Not exactly a sexy outfit for celebrating New Year’s Eve, but practical for Below. She knew Vincent preferred she dress for warmth.
She made her tea and considered what they might do tonight. She wasn’t sure how much celebrating they did Below. She and Vincent planned a late supper by the falls. Vincent hadn’t mentioned anything being done by the community, so she assumed many didn’t mark the event, or did so in their own ways.
Her tea drunk, she gathered up a bottle of champagne and two glasses and placed them in a paper bag. At the last minute, she threw in some chocolate cookies that she knew Vincent would love. Not exactly traditional, but who cared?
She headed Below.
True to form, Vincent met her Below at the threshold. With one hand holding the bag with the champagne, she looped her other through his arm and, together, they set off.
“You’re happy, “ Vincent observed. “I can feel it radiating from you!”
“Yes, I am!” Catherine smiled broadly. “I love New Year’s Eve, and this is the first one I get to spend with you!”
Vincent made a mock bow. “I am honored.” He straightened. “I just hope you are not disappointed. The new year doesn’t produce the same celebration Below that it does Above.”
Catherine looked at him quizzically. “Why not?”
“Perhaps because our lives are so full of routine directed at maintaining our community that to look forward will only show more of the same.”
“Surely, there are times of unexpected good fortune or fun.” Catherine couldn’t imagine not hoping for a better year, or some momentous event to occur.
Vincent saw the disbelief written on her face. “Catherine, our world is very different from yours. For us, a good year is when fewer pipes break, or a cave in doesn’t trap one of our family. This life … is not for everyone.” He paused, noting in his mind how he wasn’t certain that she knew how hard a life it would be. “We exist day to day. January 1st is just another day.”
“So you don’t celebrate?”
He stopped and turned to look at her. “Not really. A few may bid “Happy New Year” to people, noting the day. But no party, or countdown. But we are busy planning for Winterfest.”
“You don’t make resolutions, either, do you?” They had begun walking again. “I always use my New Year’s resolutions as my ‘wishful thinking’ list of what I would like to accomplish or how I would like to be, knowing very little of it will get done, of course, but at least, with the list, I’ve considered what could be goals for the next year.”
They continued walking in silence.
“Vincent, would you write New Year’s Resolutions with me?”
“If it would please you to do so.”
“Good! At least one tradition will be kept!”
She greeted everyone along the way with a “Happy New Year!” and received smiles and returned wishes. They gathered up the basket with their supper from William and headed to the falls.
Vincent spread out a blanket and laid the meal at one corner as they each sat at another. After they’d eaten, they sat quietly until Catherine reminded Vincent they still had their resolutions to write. She took the sack, tore it into two pieces, and handed him one. He supplied two pencils for them with which to write.
“After we finish, I’ll share these chocolate cookies with you!” She pointed to the small container of cookies she brought, as she figured an enticement wouldn’t hurt. She scooted until her back was supported by the tunnel wall, and began thinking, then writing. She occasionally glanced Vincent’s way and saw that he mostly appeared to be thinking and not writing.
“It can be anything, Vincent. What you hope will happen, what personal aspect of yourself you wish to improve, even what you might wish for the community.” She went back to writing.
“Finished!” she declared. “How about you?”
He nodded. “Now what?”
“Well, I’ve heard some people burn them, sending them into the universe to have help in bringing them to fruition. Some people share them, become buddies, to help each other achieve them. Many keep them private, as a personal thing to refer to on occasion to see what progress they made. What would you like to do?”
Just at that moment, Mouse came skidding up.
“Vincent!” He looked at both sitting, with the remains of supper scattered about. “Sorry. Interrupted. But important!”
“What is it, Mouse?”
“We need you. Small rock slide. Nobody hurt!” Mouse held up his hands to ward off inquiries of that nature. “But big rock making it hard to pass. Shouldn’t take long.”
Catherine sighed. Always an interruption. “Go! I’ll still be here when you get back! And we still have champagne to drink!” She smiled to show her support. It would be well after midnight by the time Vincent got back, since it wasn’t far from midnight now. But the champagne would still be a toast to the new year.
Vincent got up and hurried away with Mouse.
Catherine busied herself with putting away the leftovers from their meals. She made sure to leave the cookies out for later, along with the champagne glasses and the bottle. It was then she spied Vincent’s paper lying on the edge of the blanket. Dare she? They had yet to decide what to do with the resolutions. But she was curious!
She sidled over to where the paper lay. If her glance happened to take in what was written, well so be it! When her eyes fell upon the words, her heart melted, for only one resolution was written:
Spend more time with Catherine.