New Year’s Eve is a huge letdown for people like me: a claustrophobic, teetotaling homebody. The last place I want to be is at some bar or the middle of Times Square freaking out.
“Auld Lang Syne?” Pffft.
My husband, a working musician, always works on New Year’s Eve, leaving me to tell everyone I sit on my couch in my Christmas pajamas eating junk food and watching the ball drop on TV. Neither of which I actually do, unless you count Korean gimbap and popcorn junk food. Most likely, I’m upstairs in my “office,” working on a deadline, using my third cup of coffee as a lifeline.
Not this NYE. This one was different, sorta.
On a whim, we RSVP’d to Sage & Cinder, a neighborhood vegan restaurant. I’d interviewed the restaurant’s proprietor, Cynthia Hesslewood, for a Farm-to-Table feature, and promptly fell in love with the vegan life.
Another attraction: IvyLane, the acoustic duo of singer Elaine Skeffington and guitarist Ivan Lee on their farewell tour. Lee and his wife are headed to warmer climes.
I’d met Skeffington at the now-defunct Tula’s in downtown Seattle a few years ago. My friend, flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny, was headlining (or maybe it was pianist Bill Anschell). She seemed really nice, a fan of jazz she didn’t need so desperately to be a part of. So many singers are only into themselves, faking their way onto the stage.
Curiosity and FOMO led me and my husband to Sage & Cinder, and IvyLane, for our first NYE together in decades, as husband and wife. What would a normal NYE be like, after all these years?
Turns out, quite lovely.
The vegan food did not disappoint. Hesslewood prefers to serve hers in small bites, tapas, timed to make a moment last, referencing her 10 years working and living in Europe. Our favorite dish: delicately fried croquettes made of Hearts of Palm and potato, with a luscious remoulade.
The live music didn’t disappoint, either. IvyLane performs acoustic ballads, beautifully harmonized, definitely more our style. They’re rather like Simon & Garfunkel mixed with a little Enya and Cyndi Lauper (Hat Full of Stars), soft around the edges, fading memories dropped in the middle of a field of daisies as far as the eye can see.
They covered Steely Dan’s “Dirty Work,” hunkering down into warm comfort zones of familiar melodies. Skeffington’s voice percolated between the smooth and the sparkly.
But their lovely and lyrical music exuded an unintended “Scarborough Fair” effect. It made us feel incredibly sad, and homesick. Under different circumstances…
We would’ve liked to stay. But, my husband’s dealing with a health issue related to his cancer recovery, over four years in the making…things you’ll never see in an Oscar-nominated movie-of-the-week. We went home to watch the ball drop from the comfort zone of our bed, in our pjs, with our junk food popcorn and Triscuits, glazing over at the awful musical acts and their pretentious follow-ups, just glad to be alive, full, and safe for the moment.