The setting: A Railroad Square coffee shop strung with Christmas lights and humming with conversation.
The characters: Three people, alone at separate tables. A man in a black cowboy hat. Another with an armful of tattoos. A woman whose necklace was a polished abalone shell.
The plot: The year ending approaches the year beginning, and glances back blend with looks ahead.
Top Pressdemocrat.com Stories Of 2012
1. An interview with Levi Leipheimer. The PD's Bob Padecky spoke with pro cyclist Levi Leipheimer in October after it became public that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs. KENT PORTER/ PD FILE
2. In May, three federal agents were wounded in a raid on a Petaluma home. KENT PORTER/ PD FILE
3. In April, the body of missing Santa Rosa teen Charlotte Moliari was found in Annadel State Park. CRISTA JEREMIASON/ PD FILE
4. In February, Santa Rosa masseuse Carole Marie Brooks was shot and killed in her office. COURTESY PHOTO
Cyclist Phil Heydorn looks on as Santa Rosa Police field and evidence technician Laura Tallman removes a damaged bicycle from the scene of cyclist fatality at the intersection of Fountaingrove Parkway and Thomas Lake Harris in Santa Rosa, California on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)
6. In September, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo was arrested in a Labor Day street fight in San Diego. CRISTA JEREMIASON/ PD FILE
Petaluma police evidence technicians Clare Torina, right, and LaDonna Thompson process a revolver as evidence at the scene of an attempted murder of Kim Conover, 43 and suicide of her husband Kevin Conover, 41, near 10 Keller St in Petaluma, California, on Sunday, April 15, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)
8. Lady Gaga's February visit to Sonoma County had the region buzzing. COURTESY PHOTO
9. A fiery July crash on Hall Road killed one man and lead to the arrest of a woman. KENT PORTER/ PD
10. A June interview with Santa Rosa doctor and author John McDougall on his life, family and "The Starch Solution." KENT PORTER/ PD FILE
"I never really thought about it, but now that it's coming up, it gets you thinking about stuff," said the woman, Ellen Atzilah Solot of Sebastopol.
"It" is her 60th birthday on Jan. 7, a week into the new year, and the stuff on her mind, as it turned out over the next half hour, is a lot.
But first turn to another table at the Aroma Roasters coffeehouse, where Andrew Kostelak, 56, cowboy hat on his head, is reading Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" on his iPad.
"I've had people say, &‘Wouldn't it be nice to have everything you wanted,'" said Kostelak of Santa Rosa, an AT&T customer service worker. "I do."
"I do" means no New Year's resolutions. "I do" means a new house and the ability, once thought lost to tendonitis, to play guitar again. It means indescribable memories.
But before those details, cross the crowded room to where Matty Mangone-Miranda, 35, sits by a window reading "The 12th Planet" by Zecharia Sitchin, an alternative explanation of human origins.
"I don't know if this is the truth, but it's interesting to read and it's kind of a new journey," said the Santa Rosa resident with Chinese characters that he declines to translate tattooed on his right bicep.