I have never been a big fan of parties. I know in the past I have really dissected this topic so forgive any redundancies in this post.
My modus operandi at parties is to either hover over the food, find an animal and spend the whole night petting and talking to the dog or cat at the party, play with any kids at the party and avoid adults all together, or maybe if I am lucky I will find one or two people I can have a real conversation with that is not small talk.
If all else fails I will walk outside and sit by myself contently.
My hang ups at parties are:
- It’s crowded
- Small talk
- Drunken shenanigans (I run into this less now, it was more prevalent in my twenties)
- Too much stimulus (sight, sound, smell.. there is too much to take in, I get overwhelmed)
- And finally, the feeling of being an outsider. I am uncomfortable before I ever show up, I don’t tend to calm down and fit in once I get there.
Before I found my hubs who is a fellow introvert and feels the same way I do about all of this, I dated extroverts. Two of my former partners were musicians and big partiers. This was rough on our relationship because I could not hang. This is no slight on them, I just could not do it.
So all this build up leads to this story.. Yesterday hubs and I went to two parties. We were at parties from 11am until 9pm last night. A piece of me had been dreading yesterday for weeks.
The first party was a surprise 30th bday party for a close friend. Hubs was involved in getting the bday boy out of the house while I helped his wife set up. The set up part was great, it was me, her, and one other wife. Then it was time for the party. People started showing up and I fell into my comfort zone – hide by the food table, hang out with the dog. Then hubs showed up with the bday boy and all was well. Eventually I did warm up a bit and play some games and socialize but if a dog came out to visit for a bit you knew where to find me.
Early evening we left this party and headed home to prepare for our next party – this is when my anxiety really started to ramp up.
Some of our neighbors were hosting a block party for just our block of the street. The street was closed off, a stage was set up for an acoustic performer, twinkle lights were hung from the trees lining the sidewalk, games were set up for all the kids on the street, tables with food to share, chairs, beer coolers.. It was beautiful and welcoming and I was scared.
When we arrived home I started making our food contribution for the party, spanakopita, and started trying to talk hubs out of making me go. We could go to a movie, we could stay home and play Monopoly, we could go play cards at my parents house, we could go to dinner, we could watch a movie at home.. It was no use, he said we needed to go and be social with our neighbors and I knew he was right.
We know our neighbors who live right next to us, to the left, to the right, across the street, and diagonally. Past that there were going to be a bunch of new people to meet and I was scared. I was scared of once again feeling like an outsider. I was scared of forced small talk- which I usually fail at.
A little after 6 we grabbed our offering, hubs had a cooler of beer and I had my coconut water, and we headed down the sidewalk to where the festivities were taking place. Deep breaths, it is going to be okay. I kept looking at hubs for reassurance which he gave freely.
The outcome: It was amazing. I am so glad he didn’t let me talk myself out of it.
My favorite neighbors (I really like this older middle aged couple across the street) showed up and set up with us. Then another couple, then another. An hour in a little group had formed around us. The weather was stunning, there was breeze and a slight chill in the air.
My favorite part: no awful small talk.
The wife who lives across the street is an artist like me, her medium is clay, and she works downtown. We talked at length about art and the community downtown I did community work in and the gentrification taking place. Awesome!
Then I met Ms. Ruth. Ms. Ruth is an older woman who lives at the end of the block. She has lived on our street since the 50’s. I plopped down right next to her and we talked for a long time. I learned so much about the history of our street, my own property, and our community. She told me about her family, and how she met her late husband at a YMCA dance and how they danced together throughout their marriage. She asked me about my interests in social work, and how hubs and I met.. Ms. Ruth was the best part of my day. Being with Ms. Ruth made me miss my previous population of older adults. I love stories, my older adult clients always had plenty to share. It was so good.
True to form I also visited with all the dogs at the block party and I played with some of the kids. I ended up covered in juice box, ice cream finger prints, and with a forgotten pink glow stick. It was a great night.
We met a lot of out neighbors, got to know a few much better, and were reminded again why we love our community. As long as we live in Central Florida we will not leave this community, it is a truly wonderful place to live. My heart was so full. I cannot wait to have our own babies who will get to grow up here and have all these wonderful memories growing up.