Thursday, June 2, 2011

Morning party

I am lucky that most people who throw large annual parties don’t bother to cull their guest lists from year to year or I probably wouldn’t have been invited to yesterday’s midmorning brunch given by my friends Liz and Peg. It was the third or fourth time they’d invited me, but it was the first time I’d actually managed to be there.

Yes, I have plenty of work to do this week, and plenty of assignments to wrap up as well as a few to start, and truth be told, I was a little embarrassed to be going to a party in the middle of the workday. It just sounded so very decadent. I could be meeting deadlines; why was I chatting and sipping coffee? That’s not something working people do.

On the other hand, why bother to be self-employed if it doesn’t mean a couple of times a year you can do something you never used to do in the corporate world: just wander across town on an ordinary Wednesday morning for a party?

Peg’s house was brimming over with other party-goers: forty or fifty in all, probably. Several years ago, if I happened to drive past an event like this, I would have wondered about the attendees. Really, I would have thought to myself, in this day and age, how can fifty Carlisle women be free in the middle of a weekday morning to stand around talking?

But I knew most of the women there, and now it doesn’t seem so unusual to me, although I certainly concede we are an exceptionally fortunate group. Some of the women who were there don’t currently have paid jobs, but many do. Some, like me, are self-employed and set their own hours and see something like this party as a special indulgence, a reason to leave the home office for an hour or two. Others work part-time. And some are business owners or senior managers who, quite frankly, can come and go from their offices without feeling obligated to offer explanations to anyone.

It was the kind of event I could have very easily persuaded myself to skip. I enjoy my solitary work day. I like the focus and intensity of being by myself all day concentrating on my writing projects. Going out to socialize takes effort.

But on this June morning, it was an effort I felt like making. Among the forty or fifty guests, I knew most of them, though there were some I hadn’t seen in over a year, and it was great to catch up. Ingrid had been living in Switzerland for the past couple of years, and I was interested to hear how that had worked out for her family; Lisa and I commiserated on our sons’ busy spring baseball schedule; Peg updated me on volunteer recruitment for next fall’s Spaghetti Supper; Liz and I fell into a conversation about what it’s like to visit your childhood home once your family no longer lives there. I met a couple of people for the first time as well, though I knew their names and they knew mine; that’s what small-town life is like.

And as decadent as the plan may sound, we did a little bit of good for the world as well, and for ourselves. Peg and Liz stated on the invitation that the party would include a canned food drive and put out boxes into which people could deposit food contributions that will later be brought to a distribution center, and guests were also encouraged to bring a second-hand book wrapped in brown paper (with a one-word description written on the paper) to trade.

It would have been easy to stay home, but I was so glad I went. It made my day feel richer for sharing it with a wider community than is the norm on a work day. My creativity and productivity improved when I got back to my desk, and it wasn’t even noon yet. It’s just good some days to get out and be with other people, and I was lucky yesterday to have the chance to do just that.

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