Every weekday morning, I take the commuter bus from New Jersey to Manhattan. It stops at Port Authority and then proceeds down 42nd Street to Madison Avenue and up Madison to 59th. Most mornings, passing by Times Square is my cue to put my book away and get my coat. On this last day of 2008, even at 8:30 in the morning, Times Square was getting ready for the big party. I looked up to see the crystal ball which will drop at midnight. The sawhorses and the metal barriers are out, and the police department is starting to get organized.
The last time I spent New Years' Eve in Times Square was 1972. Some friends of mine used to rent a suite in a cheap hotel in Times Square (Times Square still had cheap hotels in 1972), buy a lot of food and liquor, and charge everyone they knew $3 to attend. It was great - you could either go down to be in the crowd (after leaving your watch and wallet upstairs) or look out the window, or keep partying and ignore the whole thing.
My New Years' Eves are a lot calmer now and I know that this year I will turn on the TV at ten minutes to midnight--if I make it to midnight--to see the place I passed by in my bus this morning packed wall to wall with people. May all of us--the stay at homes, the partygoers, the revelers in Times Square--look towards a 2009 with hope for a new era, a time for peace and abundance for all humanity.