Monday, January 01, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

"At least there won’t be dancing this year," I reminded hubby as we drove from the restaurant to our friends’ home, where we rang in the new year last night. When it comes to New Year’s Eve festivities, my husband has a tendency toward curmudgeonliness. Choosing the restaurant is a tightrope-walking act as I attempt to balance my tastes against hubby’s aversion to anything resembling fine dining. Last year we feasted on the Bloomin’ Onion at the Outback Steakhouse, so this year I felt entitled to a restaurant where the Caesar salad would be served with prosciutto instead of bacon. (Indeed, the restaurant we chose even featured a lemon ice sorbet to cleanse the palate – but only on the ladies’ plates; apparently women are unoffended by garlic breath in their husbands, concerned only with avoiding halitosis themselves.) If the meal is a minefield, the afterparty is even worse: hubby’s discriminating gaming tastes are not always reflected in the company we keep, and the din of X-Box on the surround sound system is often enough to drive him home before midnight.

Eight years ago, I hosted a New Year’s party for this same group of friends. I was newly single, living with my parents, who kindly vacated the house so that I could have everybody over. The marble foyer became an impromptu dance floor as we played Prince’s "1999" to celebrate the last year of the old millennium. Despite his aversion to loud music and dancing, he-who-would-be-hubby got lickered up enough to cut loose a little bit, and when I grabbed him by the shoulders to steer him out onto the dance floor, it was the first voluntary physical contact between us. It would be another two months before I’d know for sure that he’d noticed.

Out of the twenty-odd celebrants from my famous New Year’s Eve party (the only time I’ve ever been bold enough to host anything), six couples made it to last night’s get-together. For us, the last eight years have included two break-ups (neither of which stuck), six weddings, and seven babies, with three more on the way. One couple was represented only by the husband; the wife is in the hospital right now, four weeks into a six-week stint of bedrest before her scheduled C-section.

Naturally, there was lots of talk of babies. "You’re past the thirty-week point now – the home stretch," the hostess reassured a friend who is seven months into her first pregnancy after four years of infertility. "It’s always a good feeling to get past that thirty-week milestone," I added – "but these are the longest weeks of your life." My friend is due in March, and at the point in her pregnancy when people fail to hide how startled they are to discover that her delivery is still a whole season away: she has a great, gorgeous belly, tight and high and perfectly spherical. All of us found this New Year a little more meaningful than usual because it will bring this friend her long, long awaited baby girl.

But there was also one newcomer to this party: a girl with a tiny, flat belly that suggests she cannot possibly have borne a child. We had one of those totally uninformative introductions: I know her name, and who she came with, but no other contextual details. Perhaps because of this vagueness I found myself observing the evening from what I imagined to be her perspective (but what was really, I suspect, my own perspective as a younger, pre-baby, just-dating twenty-something). It was a strange experience, listening to all the talk of pregnancies and babies through the ears of my former self.

Not that our children are all we talked about – while the men played X-Box I introduced the women to Chez Geek, a game that can always be relied upon to trigger fond reminiscences of our slacker days. "That’s what I got drunk on in Cuba," our hostess remarked as I played the "Tequila Shots" card.

"I remember that phone call!" another friend replied.

"Oh right. I called Canada from Cuba in the middle of the night. Just because I wanted to say hello."

Those days seem far away now, but instead of feeling nostalgia or regret, I started to remember what it was actually like to be heading into my late twenties, unattached and living with my parents. Eight years ago I wore my little black dress, a flimsy, swishy size six garment designed to show off my concave post-divorce tummy – and if I could have looked ahead to see myself clad in my monochromatic tummy-minimizing knitwear, playing cards with the girls in the depressingly gender-segregated habit we’ve fallen into since we morphed into wives and mothers, I would have been amazed.

Because I have it all – all I ever wanted.

27 comments:

Karianna said...

Beautiful thoughts - have a great 2007!

Christina said...

Ah, I LOVE Chez Geek! We play it with Chez Greek mixed in, and it truly feels like the old days.

jen said...

what a beautiful post. it's a gift when we can see our lives full circle, especially when we can lean back and sigh with contentment.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I've noticed that segregation by gender, too. I thought it was just my crowd!

I love my life as it is now, too, but I have to admit some bit of envy for the freedom my former self had : )

Mother Bumper said...

What a great post B&P. I actually giggled when you talked about the first physical contact with he-who-would-be-hubby and I'm so happy to have 1999 stuck in my head. Happy New Year to you and your wonderful family, what wonderful memories you have.

Beck said...

Chez Geek is what now? Great post!
I do feel some regret for my skinny 20-something self, but only for the things that I didn't do then. As far as my life goes now, it is all good.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh I do so miss playing cards with the girls. That' how I spent the first half of my 30s. So lovely.

Pieces said...

I love that realization--that you couldn't pay me enough money to go back in time to the way it used to be.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a good evening with friends. Happy New Year!

Kids Furniture Crazy

nonlineargirl said...

We should never look at our present happiness through the lens of what we thought we wanted when we were twenty. Your evening sounds like fun - I love games, much to others' chagrin.

bubandpie said...

Beck - Chez Geek is a card game designed to replicate the experience of being a slacker. You get a job (like Convenience Store Clerk or Drummer), with realistic proportions of income and free time, which you spend on buying items (like food, booze, or role-playing games) or doing activities (like getting a tattoo, sleeping, watching TV, or nookie). You also get to invite people over to hang out with you, or other players can sic unwanted guests you on. Lots of fun!

wordgirl said...

Contentment. It's a wonderful thing.

Sandra said...

I am in love with that last line. I even got a little chill. Happy New Year to you!

DaniGirl said...

Oh, that last line jumped out and practically bit me on the nose. I so did not see that one coming!

And what a lovely space to be, too. Me too, me too. Thanks for the reminder...

Kyla said...

*lol* We definitely segregate by gender. I guess it just happens...in the old days, the majority of your time is spent with the same sex, so parties are an excuse to mingle with the opposite sex. Now we spend the majority of our time with a member of the opposite sex, so parties become about the rare opportunity to spend time with people of the same sex.

Heh, because I like to live my life in fast forward, I'm not even in my late 20's and I have baby belly and two little munchkins already. I roughly skipped years 18-29, and I'm only 23! *lol*

Happy New Year!

nomotherearth said...

I'm happy where I am now, too. I do miss the skinny jeans, and being able to sleep or read whenever I want, though.

T. said...

I skipped those angst ridden twenties. Perhaps foolishly, perhaps not. Had two babies and a hubs by the time I was twenty one. Bug came when I was 25. I thought I had it all.

I was right.

Wonderful post. It was like I was right there with you!

Lawyer Mama said...

Ah, good times. Sounds like a great New Years!

Jenifer G. said...

Wonderful post.
Happy New Year to you and your family.

We segregate too. Girls over there and the guys somewhere else. I think it is what another poster said about not getting together often enough anymore.

I agree I do miss my size 6 jeans but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Well, maybe one or two delicious nigts of sleep. PG is on the sofa right now after a marathon of barfing. Sigh.

Best wishes for 2007.

Nancy said...

What a lovely way to view the New Year -- with sentimental eyes, but grateful for the life you are now living. Sometimes I do miss the single days when I could really ring in the new year, but I wouldn't trade my family for anything in the world.

Happy 2007!

Momish said...

Yep, it's exactly like that! Those were good times, these are better. I love it when life works out like that. Each time you think you have it all - you do!

Aliki2006 said...

Happy New Year! I've given up thinking about what I/we used to do for New Year's Eve. Now I'm happy to snuggle in bed at 10:00 p.m. with my littlest one, after, of course, having given my sleeping son a final tuck and kiss.

ewe are here said...

As much as I enjoyed the parties of my twenties, I too have everything I ever wanted now and wouldn't trade my quieter celebrations for anything.

Beautiful post.
Happy 2007!

Haley-O said...

It is amazing, isn't it -- how much we've changed, become moms. We're hip, though. We're hip mamas! ;)

crazymumma said...

well said...

I often think of my twenties and thirties as a lonely sort of shiftless yet frantic time. And although I loved my art 'career', it was really having a family that gave me a true sense of purpose. It also made me alought less self involved, good for me as I am a broody moody downer type.

Now, bringing art back into my life in the small moments I can grab, makes it all the more precious to me.

May this year bring you joy!

Mommy-Like Days said...

After a bit of slump, New Year's is fun again, isn't it? Anything that invloves getting out of the house without the kids is pure fun. Unless it gives you the first chance in months to realize how exhausted you are so all you want to do is cry.
Love the memories.

edj said...

Yep. You got it.
When I was in my late teens-early 20s, I was terribly afraid to get married and have kids. I think I somehow thought I would lose who I was, and I was a teensy-bit obnoxious and superior to those who opted to begin families early.
I had no idea, of course. But no way would I trade.