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NYC Time Traveler

New Year's Postscript

In fact, I didn't skate into 20013:

I swam (well, more or less) in my first—and possibly last?—Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year's Day PLUNGE.

 Of course, those crazy Polar Bears jump into the frigid water on their own at least once a month, all winter long. But once a year, on the first day of the new year, they issue an open invitation to The Public to join them on that wintry beach. And, for no particular reason, I'd decided, back in early December, that I'd be plunging with them this time.

I surprised myself by actually showing up mid-day, January 1.  And I was even more surprised to discover that the event has become, you know, a thing—which frankly, I should've anticipated, this being NYC, after all, where everything, and anything, stands a good chance of becoming a thing, at least for a short run. This, though, was huge, a hip, hyper-hyped destination (tour buses and all!), drawing over two thousand participants (as the hypy media later reported.) 

The point is, getting there at 1:00pm—which is when the running plunge was officially scheduled for—was way late: there was a discouragingly huge queue, snaking along the boardwalk. Grimly dragging my big bag (surf shoes, blanket, dry clothes et al.) toward the end of it, I was intercepted by a sweet Russian gal I know, who invited me to slip in with her small crew of local runners. No one around us seemed to mind, and I was glad to be part of a group, given the sheer numbers and the generally disorganized feel of the whole scene. That endless line seemed barely to be moving at all: I was more than ready when some one of us suggested that we just go, on our own, down to the sand, into the sea. We took ourselves and our stuff over a low fence, and headed toward the water's edge.

Somehow, though, I lost them before I was halfway there. Whaaaa@#$%^&*!!!!! The chagrin I felt seemed excessive: I understood only later that it had to do with my now being entirely on my own, no private little gang, no giant public mob, no one at all to run screaming and laughing with into the surf. Personal challenge though the plunge may be, it's meant to be shared; that's part of the fun (painful as it is.) The only one I still had with me was my more than slightly dubious better half, documenting things at a safe remove.

Can you find me (wearing a b&w Volcom rash guard, half-hidden behind a fairly furry bear...)?

Ah well. Having shed my winter layers and slipped on my surf shoes, I trudged down to the foam, and plunged in—there's no other way to do it—swimming out, for, oh, all of fifteen seconds, I'd say. There wasn't a soul around but for one older Russian lady, who was slowly walking circles in the dark, waist-deep waves, smiling, evidently enjoying. She probably laughed as I dashed out, pounding back up the beach toward that wonderfully warm Turkish blanket, and then, the heated changing room up on the boardwalk. I was laughing a little myself; it wasn't without its funny sense of satisfaction, after all, though it was over, done, in a sort of blue-tinged blur. I suppose I would call the actual plunge a bit—anti-climactic. It's probably just as well that I didn't have any particular expectations about this peculiar New Year's ritual: indeed, I didn't particularly expect I'd do it.

But I did. I did it, whatever it is. A chill way to kick-start a New Year: yeah. I think I'll leave it at that, at least for the time being...

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