For the first time in my four years in New York, I went to Times Square to witness the New Year's celebration.
There were said to be half a million people there. Probably true. The police were everywhere, trying to maintain order and blocking the streets leading to an already jam-packed Times Square. I stood behind the police barricade along with a few dozen others, hoping eventually to get through.
The commander was willing to hear everyone's reason for wanting to go to Times Square. Most were tourists who had come to New York just for the occasion. They were allowed in.
"What's your story?" the officer asked me. "I'm a reporter. I want to write something about the New Year for my Internet magazine," I said and wished to God he wouldn't ask its name. "You're gonna put my picture on the Internet, right?" he said with a big smile. "Right!" I said.
I made my way through and joined the throng of mostly young people with their party hats and colorful balloons basking under red, white, blue, yellow and orange neon signs flashing from giant ads and television flood lights.
Everyone was waiting for the traditional "dropping of the ball." The ball, flashing with hundreds of small, white lights, was on top of a pole above a skyscraper waiting to slide down, heralding the New Year. The excitement was overwhelming, and contagious.
"....five, four, three, two, one! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!"
There was spontaneous hugging, kissing and screaming as an avalanche of colorful metallic paper and confetti poured from above. It was a most joyous and memorable sight.
As I left the square and walked through the happy crowd to the subway station, I had a growing urge to find someone I knew; someone close; someone to share the joy. Someone Iranian. I was becoming desperate, turning my head at the slightest sound of a foreign language.
I didn't see any Iranians. But there was a consoling thought. I thought about all of you.
Happy 1996 everyone.