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The Cocktail Party

27 Nov

I’ve been looking at friend photos of the Thanksgiving that just passed, and it reminded me of a dinner party my companion and I held while living in Albany, NY. We lived in a really cool rehab brownstone around the block from the governor’s mansion. It had all the cool – brick walls, original floorboard, galley kitchen, great outdoor space, and I did some artsy deco stuff around the faux fireplace that made the mantel stand out. Needless to say it was great for parties, and my companion and lover at the time, was a young, absolutely gorgeous, Julie Christie look-alike. We were young, fun, fabulous, and we both believed in an open door policy – where our generosity knew no boundaries, particularly around the holidays.

By six at night, the party was in full-swing. People were bringing gifts and placing them under the Christmas tree that was centered between two big, floor to ceiling windows. The tree looked perfect in the living room, nearly 8 feet tall, it filled the apartment with aromas of freshly cut pine. Both Edie and I greeted each guest, taking their jackets, and offering a first glass of wine or champagne.

I had invited Erin and Lisa, two friends who I had known from Brooklyn, and who had transplanted themselves, moving to Albany a few months earlier – over the summer, for a job with New York State. “Oh!” I said to Erin, “How are you?!” We kissed and hugged, introductions all around. And I remember Erin winking at me and whispering, “Wow, Ter, she’s beautiful.”

“She a lot of work, Erin” we smiled knowingly. “Does this have to be refrigerated?” as she passed the tray, so many people were in the kitchen, and it was Edie pulling me aside, “I’m putting the ice on the deck, there’s no more room in the refrigerator. What’s that?!” she said, pointing to what I was holding.

“It’s something from Erin and Lisa – “

Edie, always in a rush more than me, “We can’t fit it! I’ll put it under the tree!”

The next day the regular clean-up began, the expected dishes in the sink, the leftovers sitting on the counter looking half-dead, the open bottles of wine with their mismatched corks, and someone forgot their gloves. Where was the Advil?

I walked into the living room and the cats had taken over the tree, it was askew and one particular gift was ripped apart, and I could see tiny bits of food strewn across the wrap that surrounded the Christmas tree stand. I picked up whatever was left of the “gift” and read the tiny card that was still intact, “Terry and Edie, Merry Christmas! Love, Erin and Lisa”.

That was so sweet and kind and thoughtful of them to bring a gift, and the shrimp cocktail that never made it to the frig.

Life in the Laughing Lane

30 Sep

IMG_1138Americans are amazing, they’ll do anything they can to make a buck. This photo shows a broken down truck stuck in the mud. This guy’s trying to sell his corn. Thing is, even though the umbrellas are protecting his harvest, there’s no corn in the truck’s bed. But it sure is a good view. Nice try, too.

I work in an office with fluorescent lighting, sitting in a cubicle with beige/brown insulated-fabric dividers. I sit dressed in front of a computer. I write reports. I investigate and analyze data. Sometimes I meet with others. Other times, I’m writing. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Not for a minute do I feel that I’m not at work. I sit very close to others who cough, sneeze, and clear their throats. It’s a good day when I can finish lunch at my desk and not spill anything on my blouse. Today was one of those days.

I have a bus going out to Annapolis, so I’m mindful of the time. I have to catch the 5:06. Once on the bus, I squeeze next to someone who looks familiar, so I say hello. I’m considerate, having learned this well from my days in Catholic school, I hardly move or shift position for nearly ninety minutes. My traveling companion flips on the over head light and adjusts the air vents. I look out the window and try to remember home.

I think of my dogs waiting for me, and other ordinary things: clothes have to be washed. I could have the leftovers from Sunday. I gotta’ get new wipers. I owe Rick a phone call (I forgot to call him back last night). Oh, right, Debbi’s birthday is Friday. Finish the book in time for October’s book club night.

The bus arrives at the park and ride. I say excuse me to get into the aisle. I get to my car. It feels so good to breathe and have the room to stretch my legs. I open the windows and the sunroof. I love that my car starts right away. The drive east of 50 is fast tonight, still, I have to stop at Green Valley for one or two items. Here comes “Low-cut Connie,” that’s a song playing overhead by Rio. I pick up the mail and open the door; and because I have a large voice, I yell “Hello!” I take the dogs down to the bay, take them off collar and let them play. Tomorrow I ride at dawn.