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Auld Lang Syne

Santa Rosa, Calif.
Jan. 1, 2003

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Last night we began the evening with close friends at a small and elegant dinner in Santa Rosa, but kicked in the new year at a crowded and loud West County gathering at Emma's place outside of Sebastopol, where we knew almost no one. (Is that greedy?) The power was out when we arrived and our first job, after sampling French champagne in a plastic cup by candlelight, was to help push someone's Toyota out of the mud. The success of which called for more champagne. Inside, Jen joined a clutch of lesbians dancing to tunes from a battery-powered boombox, while I settled in with the crowd warming their hands at a bonfire in a Weber grill. We got a break in the rain, and the night was cold and clear, and I was in a good mood, so it was easy to roll with the conversation and indulge the fantasy of a fellow hand-warmer who was explaining to me and a wide-eyed 22-year-old woman that he was a Celt, a follower of an ancient culture that came down from the Steppes to Europe in pre-Roman times, and "absorbed" the indigenous cultures, rather than conquering them. I brushed away images of the Borg "absorbing" the cultures they meet, and smiled agreeably. I don't think I bought it as eagerly as the 22-year-old did, but who cares -- someone brought fireworks that we could set off by hand, shooting rockets 100 feet into the sky at midnight, and no one even cared when they tossed duds into the Weber.