Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Annual Aging Event

So I had a birthday.

And it rained. Not just drizzly wet stuff but a damn-near monsoon.

Surprisingly, this rain wasn't a bad thing. I'd invited too many people to my birthday party, and had in fact forgotten to personally invite everyone, but made it more or less an open invitation to anyone who knows me or has ever met me for a few seconds.

"It'll work out," I thought. Some people who said they'd attend would not, others would who didn't say they'd attend. The numbers would be just fine.

But the room, which is a little tiled Moroccan-style space in the back of Nomad restaurant on Second Avenue in Manhattan, only holds forty people. So when I hit positive RSVPs from 30 people, I started to worry.

But the monsoon helped me out, and I started getting "I'm bailing" emails from Brooklynites early on Sunday afternoon. I thought back on the snowstorm that happened the night of the MariesWorldTour.com 2001 departure party eleven years ago.

That had worked out too. Only people who lived on the a subway lines had made it, but they were all there, including Denise who was lugging cupcakes by my side on Sunday as we hurried through the rain to the PATH train.

I've had most of my friends for over ten years, no, twenty, I realized, when people started to show up. The newcomers are all my travel writing buddies—Erik and his pal Moe, Carly, Laura, Abbie—and Bob and Johanna, who had first brought me to Nomad in 2009. The rest ranged from people I'd known since 1988 to people I'd known at least five years.

Which makes sense, I suppose. If you're going to leave your cozy home during a monsoon, you're not going to do it on a whim. You're going to do it for a good friend.

Thirty people did show up, and some of them circulated to and from the bar in the front room, so the party room occasionally got a little crowded, but not overly so. Everyone was friendly and tolerant of my conceit that this was my welcome-home party, though I stepped off the plane at Newark in January.

But I didn't really arrive home in January, of course. I physically was here, but I was swept up in a new romance which cut my feet out from under me. I wasn't even grounded before I was scampering to keep up with a mini-tornado, a sleepless creative man who doesn't hold still in his mind for more than ten seconds at a time. This was obviously about the worst way I could have chosen to ground myself after changing hotel rooms nearly every day for ten months, and predictably this dissolved into empty promises and empty space next to me.


Why did I let this happen, I ask myself.

I shake my head at myself and wonder how I could buy into something so clearly grounded in sand, clearly based on a team effort at delusion.

What the hell is wrong with telling someone it's required to get to know each other first? Am I twelve? I can't answer why I make childish mistakes that are the sort of thing one might read about in a Dear Abby column.

Why did I buy into someone thinking they knew me based on our similarities extrapolated from my online persona?

Because I wasn't grounded. I was teetering around wondering what to do now that I was home.

And this party, on my birthday, was to symbolize my re-grounding.

I'm ready now for whatever home is going to throw at me. I'm game. I'm tough and relatively happy and I have the energy to move on to my book proposal and iPad projects and oh, time to shellac the table.

I bluster on. At least symbolically, I've got my friends around to support me. They're out in the monsoon, on-board for whatever comes next. They know I am a calm, methodical person who has no business trying to keep pace with a tornado. "Ha, he doesn't know you very well if he thinks that," has been said many time this past week, along with a small glint of mischief when one of my friends metaphorically pokes at me playfully and I consider biting back but end up laughing. My friends are silly. So silly, so funny, so loyal and smart.

My birthday night could not have been better. I'm lucky to know all these people, lucky to be in a part of the world where I can drop a few hundred dollars to throw my own party, where I can symbolically erase a screw-up, where I can revise my triumphant return home just by saying I am doing so.

And the next morning, I woke up with two things I hadn't seen in a while, since I crawled exhausted off the first bus I took in Morocco in March of 2011, when I stumbled into a hotel in Dahkla and proceeded to vomit from exhaustion and dehydration.


And optimism.

We're ready. Let's start over and get it right.


Michael Kraiger said...

"...on-board for whatever comes next."

Request permission to come aboard.

chummy's mum said...

happy birthday Marie!

Anne said...

I love do-overs! And I can't wait to see what comes next. :)

Kevie Metal said...