A couple of nights ago, while cleaning out my inbox, I clicked open an old-fashioned party email invitation I’d sent out for New Years Eve 2007. Rereading it, I couldn’t help but feel flushed at the wordy attempt to sound casual and cool (subject was entitled: “laid-back, no expectations kind of new years eve party at Sylvie’s”) but when I read through all the reply-alls (my life was filled with so many people who knew and knew of each other back then that the reply-alls weren’t a bother the way they are now), it was clear no one found my proposal grating. Everyone had equally dorky / clever-attempting things to write back (i.e. “zero expectations = my middle name” and “I call dibs on Becky’s bed”) not to mention they all could come, everyone was free, unfilled, ready to buy a container of hummus and their own something to drink. These days it is task enough making plans with another couple for dinner… let alone ten of them and at less than a week’s notice. It made me miss the whole party-throwing shebang.
A week before July 4th, I asked Michael if he wanted to throw a BBQ party in my parents’ backyard since they weren’t going to be there. In my mind, it was the perfect opportunity to get back to my party-throwing roots. I’ll write up a guest list! I’ll make mini quiche! I’ll make a playlist! I’ll forgo the urge to concoct a trendy summer cocktail and instead, with one foot up against our chairs, we’ll drink our leftover wedding beer, eat watermelon and wrinkled hot dogs, and stay outside talking / laughing until my responsible adult voice breaks the news about needing to whisper now. Neighbors, I will point up, down and around. Everyone will have fun.
“Not really,” Michael answered.
I knew Michael didn’t have any better ideas for how we should celebrate July 4th, so I decided not to listen to him. I told him, enthusiastically, “We’re throwing a party.” And then I made him invite his friends, the ones he has left, because mine are otherwise dwindling. Seven years ago I could rattle you off tons of names – from camp, high school, Hebrew school, college, jobs, friends of friends, the entire band of a friend, boys I’d gone on two dates with – it was so easy to cull these bodies together in a room. It was the age of wanting to be where everyone was, her legs dangling off a fire escape, his back against a wall – ready to hook-up & make our connections, tell a story, and be seen. Social networking hadn’t reached that high a level of time suckage, and so we hadn’t yet begun confusing real conversations with the comments we now leave on status updates. We took cute people to parties to get them into a context, to show them who we knew and who knew us. No one was married yet.
Like most things in life, your parties will evolve. You’ll become picky about what you’re drinking, sticking with what you like best, what won’t get you drunk. You’ll want people over in the afternoon so that you can clean up that night and still get to bed as if the whole party never happened. Without the smoke, a 2-year old baby will have you laughing. Would it be nice if that guy I used to laugh with at Thursday night poker games at my friend’s ex-boyfriend’s apartment in Park Slope came to my July 4th BBQ party? I think he’s of another time, not really meant to come back.
I miss the old parties but can’t seem to throw them the way I used to. Why does this have to happen? What gives?