After turning from my two-pronged bachelor portion - Call it my version of a bachelor party - it was on to the ENGAGEMENT party portion. I guess, I've seen the single life I leave behind as I delve into hundreds of handshakes, smiles and distant family member and long lost friends heaping on the congratulations that feel insulated from reality by half a year on either side (we were engaged six months ago and have six months to go until the date).
Lisa - my future mumsy in law - is pretty excited about the fact that her first born son is tying himself down in the bonds of legal encumbrances with my particular brand of whackiness (I'd say she doesn't know me very well, but I think she does, so I'll just be flattered and grateful I'm not getting the hostile mother-in-law of fable). She was so excited, she wanted to throw a party and so she did.
The pre-party game turned out to be mellower than initially scheduled. At eleven, Lisa's friend John came over. I'd met him the first trip out to San Francisco, when Andrew and I had just been dating for 6 months. He stayed for a few hours before the strident song of a lapsed parking meter interrupted the slideshow of pictures from Lisa's trip to Peru and up around the Inca Trail.
|Hernanda the Llama and I recreate Lisa's perilous journey through history and altitude.|
As John left, Lisa and Tom went off to see the airshow, while Andrew deferred with some good sense about outstanding homework to do. While he desperately attempted to watch his lecture on a wavering internet connection, I made lunch and read Life of Pi. At about three, Lisa's business partner and his wife - Kotoro and Cat - came over, having flown in to Oakland and taken the BART to us.
I pretty much fell in love with Cat and Kotoro. Kotoro is a quiet and gentle Japanese man with an affable air and obviously healthy respect for strong women, given his choice in partners of all sorts. Cat is a kindred spirit - she started in East Asian studies in undergrad and then graduated with a degree in english and linguistics before going to law school. She had a job in admin during her law school and went from there into fundraising and educational grants at the college part time, as well as being on the school board for a while. She has a son who plays tuba and just went to Oberlin. She misses him horribly. She also - must be a trait of law school east asian studies thing - has a sere-dry wit and a well-balanced sense of confident self-deprecation.I grew increasingly fond of wringing a wry smile from her with the odd absurd statement. And I will add that she seemed quite excited to hear about Little Miss Matched and their sock trios. Soul sisters. Needless to say, I took a shine to them immediately and they didn't let me down through our sporadic interactions during the evening.
As Lisa and Tom came rumbling back with tales of flipping airplanes and loud booming excitement, the plan was presented that we would go over to the Presidio Transit Cafe - site of the party and a space crafted by Lisa's architectural firm - and linger around watching America's Cup while waiting earnestly for time to go over and set up. There were six of us. The car sat five. Andrew and Adella got volunteered to share a seat. Adella lost a vertebrae or two trying to squeeze her torso underneath the constraints of a fairly short Audi. I spent the longest three miles of my life sardined into the back, face ironed into the driver's seat head rest, and trying to breathe as the seat belt tightened around me like a lanky boa constrictor.Cat instructed me to take not the next time Lisa said "it's just a short distance." To add panic to the situation, the door would not unlock for me when we got to the parking lot. Eventually, I managed to tumble out onto the ground.
We stood at the edge of something, looking out to the water for a while.It was America's Cup, so there were boats in the water. There are probably always boats in the water and from that distance it was hard to distinguish, but these were boats with a purpose! Photos of us looking wind-tossed and squinty were snapped... Any semblance at domesticated hair was fully belied by wind.
And then! Time to deal with the set up. I had compiled a play list on Lisa's request with danceable things. It had turned into a bit of a thing since I didn't have an iPhone and Lisa thought there was only an iPhone dock available. They had even made a trip to Radio Shack to get wires to fix this earlier in the day. Naturally, these wires were forgotten in the out-the-door flurry. Feeling fairly confident in the stereo capacities of a functioning bar, I brought my netbook with some music on a playlist and they had no problem hooking it up. Of course, it was rather an unecessary flurry since there was no dance space and the bar was pretty naturally loud, so the background music stayed far to the background. And, in turn, somehow the play list that got played was not my final version with the whole addition cd worth of material that I'd purchased earlier in the day, so it ended about an hour prematurely. I'm not entirely sure any one but me noticed, what with the noise.
|The hearts were for me, according to Lisa. These puppies got broken out after the toasts. I learned from the toasts that Andrew is an awesome guy and that one of his oldest friends/nemeses is pretty funny|
By five, droves of family poured in from all directions and for the next forty-five minutes we leapt from vaguely unfamiliar face to vaguely unfamiliar face - all the while smiling, embracing and saying " Thank YOU" and "Nice to meet YOU" and leerily eying the food on the bar. Sherman - oh my god, somebody I know!! - came by around 5:30 and spent the next hour by my side. Since we actually hadn't gotten much time to talk in between tangoing and our various schedules, it was really nice to spend the extra hour with me. Also, it kept me appreciably grounded in a swarm of unfamiliars.
|And he showed me his awesome Oakleys that say Sly Masters on the lenses|
There were about 50 people in all packed into a moderately sized cafe, so quite an event. I was marginally the center of all that attention, although the evening was far more Andrew-focused for the obvious reason that "knowing Andrew" was the connecting thread between every single guest present except Sherman. Cat and Andrew's Dad individually remarked that I held myself with an incredible composure - Cat suggested I could run for office. So I'm proud and impressed, because the baby introvert in me ended the evening about twenty minutes from suddenly dropping a smile, and running from the room screaming "no more talking no more talking!!"
I want to emphasize that this does not make me a party pooper, and my ability to shine in a room with poise for two hours does not make me an extrovert. There's a balance of perfect time in which I can be the warmest and most charismatic person in a room, but it has a timer. And when I'm tired, it goes quickly. Incidentally, you can tell you're marrying an introvert when she spends an entire evening at a party appearing to have a great time, suddenly stops smiling and after a half hour of looking increasingly surly, abruptly leaves... then informs you when you try to talk to her that she no longer has any affect and that she loves you, but will be nicer when she's had some serious alone time, then plops quietly on her side of the bed and fails to interact further. And then is fine and frisky in the morning after having spent a few hours reading in a corner somewhere.
Thank god I had my earplugs. I had many remarks on them. They did - in fact - match my outfit, but more importantly they kept me sane. Another woman there commented that she too had sensitive hearing and felt empowered to wear her own and Cat and Kotoro were fascinated by it and thought it might help him - as a quiet introvert himself - be able to have conversations more easily in crowded spaces. For my part, I am starting to wonder if I should wear them all the time. As it is, I wear them at movies, in loud restaurants, and occasionally in crowded streets or halls. I have never found them to diminish my ability to hear others, while at the same time, it seems to diminish the number of times that people have looked confused and asked me to repeat myself.
But I digress. The party wound down - as parties do - around three hours in. We lingered for another forty-five minutes and then an after-party magically materialized at Lisa's house. Tom's daughters - Cursy and Cocoa - were crashing on the couch for the Bluegrass Festival and had brought a friend. Then there were Kotoro and Cat, Lisa and Tom, me and Andrew (naturally), and Lisa's cousin Andrea and her husband. Multiple stages of multiple weddings were discussed in detail between reflections on the success and acclaim of the prior party. And - as previously indicated - I was fairly interactive for some portion of that, eventually stopped being able to process language, and even further along rose and left not entirely abruptly. But it was a lovely group of people.
So, Dan - who of course declined invitation - asked me if I now felt engaged having had a party. I'm not sure. It is such a limbo time. And I have to say, since the first time I met them, I felt welcomed into Andrew's family (something for which I'm eternally grateful). But I do rather like having met Andrew's highschool crush and his kindergarted buddy... like flipping through an animated photobook.
Anyways, I am thoroughly partied up and flown back for my one day of work and LAST day of these glasses! Wish me luck adjusting and readjusting (vision, schedule, and otherwise!!)