It’s My Birthday and I’m Having a Party

It’s My Birthday and I’m Having a Party

I turn 40 next week — on Wednesday, the 10th. Patrick and I talked a lot about what to do for my 40th — for a long time I wanted to go to Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo. As some of you know from earlier posts, I have a deep and abiding love of rodeo. The NFR is the rodeo of rodeos, and it’s in Las Vegas, a place so fabulously weird that it seemed appropos for a 40th birthday. But then I moved here, and I have so many nice friends that I didn’t want to trek to Vegas and ask friends far and wide to come join me. I wanted to stay here. I wanted to have a big party and have all my new friends around me. We talked about renting the Elk’s Club (colloquially known as “The Big Room” around here). We talked about renting the newly-renovated Martin’s cafe. I had Patrick, also known as the Concierge on the task.

And then he died.

Which really threw a wrench in, among other things, my 40th birthday plans. I’ve been back and forth about what to do. Apparently, some of my girlfriends have also been plotting, and plans were afoot to rent the Big Room (which conveniently comes with a bar attached). And then last week, when Gary told me he was coming to visit, I decided to suck it up and throw my own party. Because Gary will be here to throw it with me. Which makes it less pathetic than throwing a party alone, especially since we have a clear potluck tradition here in Livingston. I’ll buy a lot of wine, some good champagne for me and some booze for the big guys, cook a ham and a potato gratin and make a big salad. People will bring food and drink, including a cake, the responsibility for which I’ve thrown out to the girlfriends, and we’ll all gather in my house to officially drive out the funeral gloom, to toast the fact that as my friend Hope says (Hope who lost her two older sisters, her father and a cousin when her father’s plane crashed when she was thirteen), “In families like ours, just being alive at 40 is a big achievement and is something to celebrate.”

So, Wednesday night we’ll be here, having a bittersweet celebration. Patrick’s the first one who would have wanted a party, so here we’ll be, eating, drinking, and toasting the fact that we’re all still here, and that we’re alive, and that a new year is about to begin.

8 thoughts on “It’s My Birthday and I’m Having a Party

  1. I offer a pre-birthday wish that good friends may be there, that the wine may be easy to drink, and that enough ham may be left over for sandwiches the next day!

  2. Happy birthday Charlotte, even if a bittersweet one. it sounds like you have some wonderful friends surrounding you, which is a true blessing!

  3. And, after the sandwiches, soup! A big pot of wonderful, comforting, ham-bone-based legume and vegetable soup to sustain you for a few cold winter evenings. May your celebration be festive in every way. I’m quite sure that Patrick’s presence will manifest itself one way or another during a day filled with good friends and fond memories. I will beam all good wishes in your direction on Wednesday!

  4. And here’s a musical selection (which you are *far* too young to have heard in it’s heyday!) for your consideration: Leslie Gore’s “It’s My Party And I’ll Cry if I Want To”. Please let us know how it goes, Charlotte — we’ll be with you in spirit!

  5. Anniversaries and celebrations are hard, especially the first time around after a loved one dies. 40 can be a rough one anyway. Take the time to grieve, and then enjoy what you can. My thoughts are with you.

    I celebrated my 50th yesterday. I spent the past year having a huge meltdown over it. And then it came, and went, and aside from my new AARP card, all is good.

  6. Wild Geese – by Mary Oliver

    You do not have to be good.

    You do not have to walk on your knees

    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

    You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

    Meanwhile the world goes on.

    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

    are moving across the landscapes,

    over the prairies and the deep trees,

    the mountains and the rivers.

    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

    are heading home again.

    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

    the world offers itself to your imagination,

    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-

    over and over announcing your place

    in the family of things.

    Happy Birthday, Charlotte

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