Surely enough, their household's sluggish departure from London delayed our plans. Reminding the sleepy polar bear that we would need to undertake four stops in addition to washing, preparing, and cleanup procedures, the amount of allocated time was insufficient to proceed with the original agenda. Doing what I do best - if I must say so myself - I called for an urgent meeting, contemplating possible solutions within the constraints and outsourcing assistance as needed.
The setup process was a joint effort by the sleepy polar bear and yours truly, who had brought and donned her own for the task. Other attendees did not extend a helping hand by default and, even when asked, there was an unashamedly brazen one that simply declared, "I just came to eat!" before turning back to voice seemingly dreadful concerns of "having too much vacation" left over. That's one member that won't be invited again. House gatherings are team efforts, not maid-making opportunities.
Eventually, at 7:09 PM, the food came together. We were, more or less, on schedule.
The party ceased consumption around the 8:15 PM mark, as per my expectations. Between 8:30 - 9:00 PM, the sleepy polar bear and I engaged in cleanup measures. Some brought bowls and plates to the sink; some twiddled their thumbs and yakked away.
Bringing one's own skates was the informed decision, for the rink was unthinkably packed. I had never seen such a chaotic sight before. The benches - the ones unoccupied - retained droplets from precipitation of the early evening hours, the skate rental queue was ridiculous, and the rink was positively bustling with visitors both equipped and not equipped with skates. Yes, you read that correctly: People of all ages were observed traversing perpendicular to the direction of travel without a shred of remorse, cutting off the path of skaters while donning standard footwear.
After assembling the rest of the party, we laced up and took to the ice. Frankly, the experience was even less enjoyable than that of Chingacousy Park. With the incredulous volume of occupants and unpredictable incoming traffic, it was hardly an enjoyable activity anymore.
The experience marked my first time visiting the medical tents at an event. It was also my first time providing personal details for someone other than myself for the completion of paperwork. St. John's volunteers failed to provide any concrete conclusions, as neither fractures nor nerve damage could be deduced from the immediate conditions. We proceeded with the rest of the evening with caution. Thankful I was to have surveyed the surroundings during our time of entry, for I was able to locate the required services with ease.
Our path back to Celebration Square had accumulated with visitors. Traversing across the square was nearly impossible, as many participants had resorted to standing amidst the crowd and not budging at all. As Bollywood tracks - an odd NYE choice, should you ask me - reverberated from the stage, I worked to locate the new location of the sleepy polar bear and crew from reference images. At long last, the group was found in the gently illuminated area between the food trucks and Duke of York Blvd. Despite reeking of cannabis, we had managed to preserve breathing space and hearing capabilities. Signal suffered a significant reduction, however.
"Thank god they can't delay it with a speech." The sleepy polar bear muttered beside me before heaving a sigh of relief. I couldn't say I had ever felt the same type of impatience in this regard.