A New New Year’s

By Amy Quincy

A New New Year’s

I must have been insane to do it. Maybe my ability to reason had not been fully restored since the stroke. I still operated under my old personality. And the old me loved going out to ring in the New Year.

My mom decided she didn’t want to eat and just pushed me in my wheelchair to Vivian in the parking lot of Twisted Sister’s Restaurant and Bar.

Viv looked cute in tight metallic pants with a black silk scoop-neck and the strappy heels with the high cork wedge I’d passed on to her. I loved those shoes. Even as painful as they’d been after a night out, I loved them.

We waited in a short line. The girls wore tops covered by leather jackets that would later be shed to reveal sparkly colors and glitter and too much skin. I was conscious of my jeans and frumpy black sweater. I wore flat, black boots that might as well have been corrective shoes surrounded by all those tottering heels. These women clacked. I clomped.

The bouncer waved us in without asking for ID. We were old enough to never get carded and young enough to still get disappointed about it.

Viv pushed the wheelchair toward a large empty table up front that had a homemade sign with the words, “RESERVED – BAND” on it. Rob came over from practicing to thank us for coming out. He didn’t know we were grateful just to have a place to go. I used to love that when we were dating. Viv’s husband was in a band too, so we always had a choice of venues.

People parted as we cut across the dance floor on our way to the table. I received lots of attention, “Happy New Year!” wishes and condescending “you go, girl!” pats. Apparently, my very existence among the scene was to be commended.

When we reached the table, I had a moment’s panic. It was a bar table. It wasn’t so high that I could’ve rolled under it, so I insisted it was fine. And it was fine, if I sat back from it a bit. Good thing I’m tall. When the waitress came over, I ordered my new signature drink: Cranberry and vodka.

I drank cranberry and vodka because it came with the necessary straw. I had done enough time looking stupid with straws in wine glasses. At home, I felt free enough to sip my screw cap Chardonnay out of a big water bottle, but in public I tried to class it up a bit.

My drink arrived with a coffee stirrer, so Viv had to go up to the bar anyway. I sat cloaked in the darkness of the wall that was next to us, listening to the music. By my second drink, I was drunk. I knew this because I was having to repeat myself more than usual. My post-stroke slur is even worse after a few cocktails.

The band played an old Train song. Viv and I had always danced to it. It didn’t matter if we were at opposite ends of the bar or if one of us was in line in the ladies’ room when it started. We would hear it and run, meeting out on the dance floor.

“Do you mind?” she asked.

“Of course not. Go,” I said.

And just like that, she was out on the floor.

I have no rhythm now. I can’t chair dance. I can’t bob my head. I can’t even tap my foot in time. I’m like that cowboy friend of Kevin Bacon’s in Footloose. The only thing I can do without looking like a total spaz is shake my shoulders – kind of a shimmy.

I ordered another cranberry and vodka. The song ended. Viv came back, and the band took a break. Rob came over and sat down. He gave me a long look.

“You’re drunk,” he said. I hadn’t said a thing.

In the hospital, he’d been the only one who could figure out what I was saying. Back when all I could do was grunt and gesture. When even my parents shrugged. Well, we had just lived together for three years. I hadn’t lived with either of my parents for eons.

“You know me so well,” I said.


“You know me so well,” I shouted, giving new meaning to the word slur.

Hours passed. The band kept playing. Friends I knew through Rob or Vivian came over to say hello. I usually didn’t like running into people that hadn’t seen the new me – old co-workers, acquaintances, men I had dated casually. The pity looks, the uncomfortable silence as they tried to figure out what to say. I always wanted to start, “So! You can see what I’ve been up to. What’s new with you?”

This was different. These were good friends of good friends. They seemed genuinely happy to see me.

There were only minutes left in the old year. I thought about where I was this time last year. Asleep in a hospital bed.

Viv brought me a plastic champagne glass with a straw bobbing in it. It looked ready to fall out.

I could so easily have not been there. I looked at all the people on the dance floor, Rob behind the drums, the band counting down. Viv put a silly party hat on my head and jumped up and down with a horn in her mouth.

So I wear clunky shoes, drink out of straws and can only shimmy my shoulders. This whole crazy New Year’s might be taking place without me. But I was there to see it, to be part of it. I slurped my champagne through a straw at midnight and felt grateful. You go, girl, indeed.

About this writer

  • Amy Quincy Amy Quincy has been working full-time as a freelance writer since her stroke in 2006. Amy has been published in Skirt!, Talking Writing, Fiction Fix, and Kaleidoscope. She is currently seeking publication for her memoir, Misadventures of a Happy Heart. Read more at www.amyfquincy.com.

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One Response to “A New New Year’s”

  1. janey womeldorf says:

    A touching, well-written essay. Thank you for sharing such honesty. Keep writing!

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