"It was twenty years ago today
Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play...."
No, that Beatles lyric is not my twenty-years-ago-today story. Here goes mine --
PICTURE IT: 20 years ago today. December 31, 1998, New Year's Eve. My apartment on the 31st floor of downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.
There I was, sitting at my computer, back when having a home computer was still a relatively new thing, probably debating myself whether I should turn on "Dick Clark's Rocking Eve" or just go to bed before 1999 even arrived. On the computer, I was online on AOL ("America On Line"), back in those dial-up days, back when there was that awful sound when you connected, and I was mindlessly parked in an AOL Chat Room. Remember those?
And then one of those moments happened, a not-a-big-deal that led to an adventure from which, thankfully, there was to be no turning back. In the Chat Room, there was an IM ("Instant Message") to me from somebody with the "screenname" FOSSISBOSS (yes, it was all caps) asking if I wanted to chat. I don't know what attracted his interest to my "AOL Profile". Maybe it was my tag line -- "What good is sitting alone in your room?" (borrowed of course from Cabaret) or maybe it was that hardly anybody else was online that evening because they were all out celebrating New Year's Eve, which made his choices limited.
The chat apparently went well, because he asked if he could come pick me up and we'd go out for a drink. Well, why not? I was a bit apprehensive, so I suggested my nearby favorite-at-the-time bar, Over The Rainbow, where I knew I'd be surrounded by friends in case this dude turned out to be a psycho.
He came and picked me up at my apartment building front door, and there he was, looking back in those days remarkably like the photo of him below (borrowed from my friend Deborah) -- dark, bushy hair; beautiful blue eyes; and that killer grin. A life-altering moment.
So we rang in 1999 together somewhere Over the Rainbow, and after that the next 18 new years together, and what years they were! As 2019 makes its first appearance tonight, I'll very much miss having him next to me recalling that first New Year's Eve, but now I need to picture him welcoming this new year alongside his mom, his dad, his dear friend Tomoko, his old dog Tango, and all of those angels who decided they needed his eternal energy up there.
THE POINT OF ME RE-TELLING THIS STORY?: If I had dozed off with Dick Clark that night, I would have missed out on my best years. Sure, I realize that instead of Jerry being the most amazing person that I have ever known, he could have been a serial murderer or a Republican or a totally forgettable dud or who-knows-what. Maybe there is something to be said for keeping expectations low and hopes high. Be open to possibilities, I guess. Joy can come unexpectedly. Life is very short! Take chances! After all, what good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play!