NYE 2021

4:⁴⁵ PM and I have finish my holiday internment, 60 days of relentless holiday events. Every evening at dusk, after the staff had been fed leftover pasta, came the party calls. The glass lanterns are hung under the grand oak, all lit and burn a scarlet that suggest something private and warm. Three spotlights highlight the Live Oak. It presents a Hydra head of branches, a twisted mess that stretches itself out and around the building. It cradles the restaurant like Kronos's hand before dinner.

In a few hours it will be January and the tree is still leafed out. When the breeze kicks up, shedding a child's fistful of confetti, oval paperboard leaves into the drinks of our parton's and anything else that is remains idle.

Besides the Live Oak there are no other living flora on the premises. That is, if you ignore the scattering of stunted rosemary bushes, the shaggy thyme, and the potted olive trees that have turned gray. Take a look a the single dormant fig tree reaching out of a green glazed pot, like the hand of a woman eager with a question, or a man about to drown. I cast a sceptical eye on it as I leave the grounds, waiting for pale leaf buds to to top it's bare branches.

Inside the building there are artful placed pointsetia, still scarlet, but the flowers are all fraying at their edges. They are just visitors here, each croaking their elder harrahs on their walk to the greasy dumpster.

Our patrons, young and old, you don't even have to look that close to see their bodies, are always suspicious fit. Most of them are a wonder to behold, as they meander across the red cedar planks of the patio. The leather soles of their shoes and heels, vaguely scuffed if at all, slide but not slip on the fallen Live Oak leaves. Most men arrive suit jacketed, but only sometimes in silk Charvet ties waiting to be sprinkled with Prosecco.

As they wait for Alex to make them something wet at the bar, you should notice the willow bend of a wrist, the slack in their thin hips. Wanting to be looked at, or at least noticed, speaks of the world being their childhood home. This is only a precursor to the sense of intimacy with their surroundings...and the people who tend to it.

You can catch sight of a left hand relaxed and holding a glass of Cantina della Volta. Maybe it will sparkle in the lamplight for you. Later in the evening a manicured right hand will coax what remains of veal osso bunco from between their perfectly aligned teeth.

At times, these people have appeared in my dreams. Something appearing under flowering lemon trees, gin on their lips, offering Gauloises Blondes from clasped cases, but never from packages. We are always situated close to the sea, reflecting Mediterranean light onto their clean faces, presenting the illusion of statemanship.

When cigarette cases are put away, and etched glasses laid on a teak side table, the right hand offered up and held as if in friendship, but most likely the gesture is one of weighing, a sizing up of how useful you well be. The hand must be taken, for all the seams of my pants pockets are still sewn closed.

As my hand is pulled away, an indelible spot of blue ink pressed and drying onto the palm of my hand, maybe leaving a flowering seal of approval. This is how the dream ends.

Tonight, most will finish their meals cutting into my basil panna cotta with tiny spoons. The full bodied pillows of infused cream, stand tall against
the bruleed citrus, a scatting of grapefruit pearls and the single reaching flag of a Basil leaf, its' tip reaching for the sky.

This is my offering to the new year, a secret reminiscence of the end of an era. The period of my sentence narrating the pursuit of other, warmer appetites.