New Year’s Eve, Paul and I were having a good old fashioned fight.  I was being completely irrational, but the holidays can sometimes do that to me.  He had to work that day and I had a show coming up the next evening.  So logically, it didn’t make much sense for us to put a lot of effort into celebrating December 31, 1998.  At least it didn’t make sense until about 7pm.

At 7pm a little salmon beacon went off in my head.  It said something like, “you should be celebrating New Years NOW”.  This is a bit inconvenient when you’re on the stairmaster at 24 hour fitness in Waikiki with no restaurant reservations and a date with your lover to “go home early and go to bed”.  Maybe, if I was lucky, I’d get to watch some of the Star Trek episodes of Voyager I had missed during the rest of the year before going to bed.  But that was about it in terms of our sense of planning this momentous evening.

Still the salmon beacon became stronger.  It started saying something like, “I can’t believe you’re not doing ANYTHING for New Year’s Eve.  Even the seaweed is starting to get excited.  You’ve got to do something.”

I couldn’t resist.  Or at least my subliminal five year old emotional mind couldn’t resist.  It got me off the stairmaster and on to thinking about what a nice dinner Paul and I could still have at some restaurant here in Waikiki or even at Buzz’s Steak House near our home.  I started thinking about how I’d connive to get us a nice table even at this late date and how we could celebrate with an elegant glass of wine, a salad and perhaps the catch of the day, and rice and gravy. 

I walked to the phone somewhat energized and called him.  His answer was less than thrilling.  I think it went something like, “Oh I’m not hungry.  I just had a polish sausage at one of the booths at the First Night event near the hospital.” 

At which point, my salmon beacon turned RED.  I was furious that he had ruined MY New Year’s Eve.  Oh I was fuming.  When I picked him up in the car, I think I said something like, “Happy New Year’s honey.  I think I’ll stop at Zippy’s to pick up some vegetarian chili to celebrate.  Maybe I’ll splurge and I’ll get a couple pieces of fried chicken too.”  I was not a happy camper.  And despite his logical pronouncements to the contrary, he just didn’t get it.  He didn’t understand the salmon beacon that was controlling his boyfriend.  He thought he was talking to calm rational Matt.  But little did he know, he was talking to the five year old who was totally thrilled about spending his New Year’s dinner with a chili frank plate. 

We continued to argue on the way home.  When I pulled into the garage, we had gotten to the point of compromise.  We would go to Buzz’s where I could eat, and he could have a drink.  Of course this did not excuse his inability to read my mind.  But it was a reasonable compromise, especially when he offered to throw in his $50 gift certificate that he got for Christmas from one of his girlfriends.

You know how you pull into the same garage day after day, year after year, and a decade goes by?  It takes something special, but you do notice changes.  When I pulled in this New Year’s Eve, I noticed puddling in the garage.  My first thought was, “oh, oh, the roofers missed a spot and the rain got in.”  Not very logical since it hadn’t rained, but a first thought anyway.  As I got out to inspect, Paul came running back from the house and said, “Matt, you better take a look at this” in his best calm but “oh, oh” voice.

As I entered my home, I noticed water ankle deep everywhere. I was bewildered.  Then, shocked.  Then, shocked again to the core of my bones.  I wandered over to the laundry room where the broken rubber hose was still spewing gallons of water all over the place.  When had I left the house, 1pm?  I checked the clock.  It was 11pm and counting.  Oh my God.  Had this been running for 10 hours?  Quickly, we turned off the main valves to the washing machine and disconnected the broken hose.

I walked over to the kitchen in a daze.  I had bought this house ten years ago.  Since then I had filled it with all the stuff that was getting soaked, from my beloved record album  collection to my even more beloved porn collection, and everything in between.  I picked up a pot and started to bail water in the kitchen.  Then I realized that this made absolutely no sense.  It would be like trying to bail out the Ala Wai canal.  Not a good idea. 

I sat down in one of my comfy dining room chairs and stared at my house.  The once beautiful sea blue carpet was underwater.  The drywall was no longer dry.  The furniture was sponging up liquid like a sponge.  And it was almost midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Furthermore, I had a show to do the next night.  This was not a pretty sight.  Forget about having a Polish Sausage on New Year’s Eve, that was nothing compared to this.  (Actually, polish sausage is nothing compared to anything.  But don’t tell Paul that….)

I took a moment to think and took a chance at the yellow pages under carpet cleaning.  Believe it or not, someone answered and said he’d be over after midnight.  I was amazed.  Help was on the way.

Paul was thinking quickly also.  He tried to call Queen’s Hospital where he worked.  He told his supervisor that there was a flood in the house and could he possibly have the day off without pay to help with the clean up.  His supervisor said something like, “yeah right”, and told him he had to get a doctor’s excuse or be at work in the morning.  Bureaucracy is such a wonderful thing. 

So Paul called one of our neighbors and asked if he could sleep on their couch, since it was going to be a long night of fans and water extraction for me.  They told us to take a breath and to come over to their place to at least celebrate the stroke of midnight by having a traditional bowl of noodles for good luck.  I looked at him.  Looked at the mess.  And grabbed the car keys. 

We drove down the street to their house, and into their open arms and dry floors.  Dry floors become amazing things when you have none.  They had us pop a few fireworks and then we watched the night sky light up with smoke and gun powder as our community celebrated in traditional Hawaii style:  Blasting out everything in sight.

Victor and Val fixed us and their family hot steaming bowls of noodles with char siu and green onions.  It was actually the perfect New Year’s Eve dinner. 

We gave our thanks and said goodbye and headed back up the road to what was to become our next transition in life.  Luckily, we had some wonderful people to help us along the way.  From Gary our neighbor who helped us move furniture into the garage at 2am that night to our contractors Aloha State Builders who helped us rebuild.  

It’s taken six weeks, tens of thousands of dollars, and a lot of stress and aggravation.  But we’re finally back in our new home.  And it is a new home.  With clean white painted walls and eye pleasing teal green carpet.  The 10 year old blue carpet had to go, despite somewhat desperate attempts by the insurance company to save it.   

But I must admit that even I had a difficult time letting it go. 

You see, carpet holds all the patterns of your life in its fibers.  You can actually see where you entered the house.  Track where you went to put the groceries in the kitchen.  Or how often you went to and from the bathrooms.  The carpet knows your old habits and is content to record them for all time.   I once went into my friend Brian’s house and saw their 10 year old carpet, full of the stains and smells of the last decade and worn down to a faded brown.  I swore I would never let this happen to my carpet.  10 years later, my carpet was a familiar and faded blue, collecting dust and dirt just like the ants that made their home around its perimeter. 

But worn as they were, I liked my old patterns.  I liked my old carpet.  And I didn’t really want it changed, at least not involuntarily.  When you start edging into middle age, you start becoming attached to things you never would become attached to when you were 20.   When I bought this house, I thought I’d sell it in five years max.  Then it would be off to the next adventure.  Little did I know how comfortable and attached I’d become to the way things were, to 10 year old carpet, to my old patterns.

I’m not sure where my old carpet is nowadays.  I suggested to the water extractor guy that perhaps I could donate it to the Salvation Army, get a tax deduction.  He just laughed.  There are some things even charity will not take.  And so he hauled it away to the dumpster.  All my patterns for the last 10 years wrapped up and disposed of.  If only it were so easy.

I’m getting used to my new carpet.  I vacuum it a lot.  That way the patterns don’t show up in the first place.  I like the idea of keeping everything brand new.  No paintings on the walls.  I just enjoy the whiteness of the walls and the teal on the floor.  Our linoleum looks killer, too. 

I must be getting old.  A 20 year old would never think these things.