The happy smiley face I have in this photo masks an inner pain. It was so bitterly, unbelievably cold last night, especially for a Sydney girl accustomed to mild winters. In real degrees, (I refuse to submit to a temperature system where freezing is 32 - what kind of wacky random number is that?!)the wind chill made it -11. MINUS ELEVEN DEGREES CELCIUS!!! I've never encountered such cold where the body's extremities go numb and subsequently throb with burning pain. Yowza!
My sister and I got to Times Square at about 6:30, astonished at the high ratio of police to civilians. We stepped out of the Times Square subway station, wearing feathered white angel wings, and encountered empty streets, save for sparadic congregations of cops. Their black uniforms blended into the dark of the evening and the gravel of the roads, and the scene made for auite an eerie atmosphere. I don't blame people for being frightened of becoming part of a mass terrorist target, but I felt pretty safe.
There were only a few entrances open to Times Square, and at each 'checkpoint', the police requested that we open our coats for them. I felt like a flasher!
As we were walking to our viewing spot, we got a sudden urge to purchase overpriced, garish New Year's accessories, and ended up getting an American flag and one of those 'tooters' that only seem to emerge during the madness of the holiday season. Freshly armed with our colourful, plasticky souvenirs, we trekked to the centre of the action - outside the MTV studios. "Like, oh my God, it's Carson Daly!!" we kept screaming, perhaps a wee bit too mockingly.
After another security check, we settled on a place one street away from the ball drop and stood to wait. And waited. And waited. And got cold. And got colder. And started to complain to each other. Just as I was re-affirming our need to suffer heroically and without comment, I glanced up at the clock on 45th Street and realised we still had five hours to wait. We weren't going to make it without some form of (warm) intervention. Leaving our spot, we walked in search of heat. Attempts to gain access to Dunkin' Donuts were thwarted when we realised that they were charging $10 just to walk in the door. Fancy that, a cover charge for Dunkin' Donuts! It's not a nightclub, it's a freakin' fast food outlet. Ahem. Anyway, we started walking north, and then serendipitously stumbled upon The Holy Grail. A steaming Sewer Grate (hereafter capitalised in reverence). Now, before you lose a large amount of respect for me, keep in mind that I am but a humble, unassuming Sydney-the-city-of-eternal-sunshine girl whose most hated thing in the world is to be cold. Right, just so we have some perspective here. Okay. My sister and I stood on top of the Sewer Grate, sighing in contentment and relief as the warmth defrosted our frozen toes. Sure, the stench bordered on unbearable, and we received an abundance of perplexed looks from members of New York's Finest, but at this point, we did not care a bit. The only problem was that the steam left condensation on our pants, which meant that we now had wet pants. Ah, the dilemma of the Sewer Grate - such sweet relief at first, but the cause of later anguish. We actually converted some shivering bystanders so that they too became Disciples of the Sewer Grate and its fragrant goodness. One of the oddest moments in a night of many was standing on the Grate in angel wings, next to a Frenchman who was leaning on the police barricade and reading the Glass Menagerie.
...To be continued since I need to pack...I know you can't wait!