Was I dressed appropriately? My date said, Jeans and a nice sweater, but it was a holiday party at a grand home on Lake Minnetonka with live music provided by a one-of-a-kind Steinway and an upright bass. That sounded like old-school cocktail attire to me.
I wore a tasteful red cardigan with a pair of expensive jeans and low heeled dress shoes.
As we drove to the party, I felt the way I often feel when going on a first date — a little anxious, heartbeat quickened, perspiration pooling. Even though this was not our first date, it was our first big social outing as a couple. How would we socialize together? How would I get along with his friends? Would I be quiet or effusive? I can go either way at parties.
We walked in through the back door which led into the kitchen. The counter was laden with a spiral cut ham, warm artichoke dip, homemade tortilla chips, Italian meatballs, a lentil salad and several other festive dishes. The center island held stemware, wine and champagne. I uncharacteristically accepted a glass of red. It seemed like a red wine crowd. My man led the way through the people and the house, saying hello and introducing me briefly to those we encountered. On our way we passed: the classically decorated Christmas tree; great staircases wrapped in fine wood banisters and illuminated garland; large windows darkened by nightfall but still allowing glimpses of an extensive porch and the revered lake; a stunning portrait of the now deceased lady of the house; a Picasso, vases, sculptures and other artwork from around the world. The home, built in the late 1800s, had all the necessary but subtle updates to make it extraordinary now. For example, the music coming from the grand piano and band in the living room could be heard throughout the house thanks to an unseen but flawless sound system.
After a tour of the house, we decided to grab plates of food and join the host and several other guests at a large round glass table near the Christmas tree. I sat down next to a couple who I was told lived next door. The husband, *Todd, told me he was a fireman. The fact that he lived next door and was a fireman did not make sense financially but I assuaged the incongruence by assuming he or his wife inherited or made money in a way they did not want to disclose. Todd and I chatted easily. He showed me pictures of their grandson in the tub and told me of his newly purchased ranch in Texas. Todd and I had ties to several of the same places, including Texas and Chicago, so we had plenty of conversation fodder. He made me laugh and at one point declared me charming. He was a definite extrovert. I wanted to stick close to him the rest of the night, but the night was young. I had to mingle more. Damn it.
We moved into the main room with the band and conversation nooks. We chose a cozy, well-pillowed, sofa in the corner. There was already one gentleman sitting there but there was room for us. The singer accompanying the piano was a close friend of the host. He came over and talked with us. He introduced us to the other man on the sofa, stating that he was an old friend of his. The slight man with soft-looking hair sharing the seat with us soon told us his name was *Dan and that he taught theater at a local high school. He mentioned he was contemplating going to Japan and teaching English after he retired in a year. I would have guessed Dan was in his late 40s but when he mentioned retirement and his 34 year-old daughter I knew I had miscalculated. He seemed to come alive talking with me one on one. I pegged him for an introvert. We had a delightful conversation about Asian culture and harmony.
A little while later, my man and I ended up dancing to a Christmas carol played by the band. No one else was dancing but a couple of people videoed us with their phones.
After that, I had a couple of conversations with other female guests while my guy went his separate way and spoke with his friends. One of the women was an artist and showed me a beautiful painting in the lower level of the house by Richard F. Lack. She spoke of its European and scientific style as well as its spiritual message. I ate it up.
Another woman talked about children and the local schools with me. My comfort zone for sure.
At one point, my man asked if I’d passed out any of my cards. He promotes with ease. I promote with infinite hesitation. He believes in me and wants me to tell others of space2live and my work. I just want to talk to people, experience their stories and survive. I gave out one card the whole night and it was to the mother who talked to me about kids and schools. She’ll probably call me looking for a tutor recommendation.
Eventually, I ended up sitting in a circle of people, including the host, listening to others talk about art and history. The conversation was inspired by some of the real life artifacts present in the room.The circle of people was an intriguing mix of artists and millionaires.The size of the circle and the fact that I did not feel knowledgable in this area kept me at minimal participation. My guy emerged from the kitchen and whispered in my ear, Ready to go? I nodded.
After a long Minnesota goodbye — 30 minutes of talking and hugging our way out the back door — we made it to the car and drove home. We chatted easily and with fond remembrances of the night’s events. It was nice to have a companion to rehash the party with out loud.
The next part is hard to admit. Although I enjoyed talking about the party and having my guy hold me after we got to my house, I did not want to be touched any more than that. All of the circulating at the party was enchanting and fun but I was peopled out. Throughout the night, others had been in my physical space and now I wanted to protect that space, make it my own again. Flashback to times in my marriage after being home with kids all day, needing time to myself at night to repair my boundaries, to feel whole again. This is hard to explain and I believe even harder to hear from a partner. My man is also a self-proclaimed introvert so he has a good understanding but it is still a difficult feeling to convey and accept.
Good as new
The next day, after a decent night’s sleep, I felt open and warm mentally and physically again. I just had to have that space to recover.
What are your party stages? What do you find most enjoyable about attending parties? How do you feel afterwards?
If this post spoke to you, you may also love: