I canceled the dive I had booked for a private event. It was pouring, and if the small backyard was closed my group would never fit in the teeny tiny bar. The place across Avenue B had room, and a pool table, so I sent a notice.
“I’m sorry,” my college roommate texted, “I’m too tired.”
“Happy birthday!” wrote a coworker. “Had to go home for Father’s Day!”
And that was pretty much the trend of the day. My BlackBerry buzzed and another friend canceled. By the time I arrived (half an hour late) to my own party, I was sober and somber and disappointed. But it didn’t matter. Honestly, I didn’t. I had celebrated wildly on my actual birthday, and this party was some sort of self-inflicted tradition of mine. So when I saw 10 people, I felt relieved.
And then another group came in. And a coworker. And three friends from college. And an entire band of freelancer writers I loved.
I was overdressed. Jacob had convinced me to ditch my purple plaid shift dress for my hot pink sequined designer dud. Dud being the operative world.
The ice in my scotch and soda melted and the drink grew warm. I flitted around the bar, trying to make sure my coworker had someone to talk to, hugging the fuck out of someone I hadn’t seen in two years, introducing favorite A to favorite B.
There must have been 50 people. And then 60. At least 70.
Be careful what you wish for. Eventually, I took down gulps of tequila and kept making introductions with a lime in one hand and an empty shot glass in another. I watched my friends flirt. I watched strangers make out. I didn’t have time to make eyes or make friends. I felt guilty for being with my friends enough. I felt overwhelmed and depressed and exhausted by managing what was no longer, in my mind, my own disappointment—but my friends’. I had dragged them to Avenue B in the rain and managed a hug and an overzealous greeting before I moved onto the next embrace.
I ducked out by 1:30 to take off my shoes and allow Patrick to roll a big birthday present. Five or six of us sat there; the birthday blithely fogged away with smoke and stories. I slinked home and ditched the sequins. I made a bowl of pasta and curled up in bed.
It was 4am, and I finally felt good.