Friday, October 10, 2014

My Red Solo Cup Moment

I reached a milestone in my adult life tonight: I left a party early.

Ok, this might not seem like an actual thing to have emotions over, I realize. I'm a person who really enjoys parties: meeting new people, hearing different points of view, generally expanding my horizons. When you add the social lubricant of alcohol things get interesting real quick.

Truth be told, nowadays I prefer to spend my evenings being insufferably productive: doing yoga, learning something new, cleaning my apartment. However, in the spirit of the new year, I was inspired to go outside my routine and try new things. So, when a friend asked if I wanted to come out, I ignored my initial reaction of 'no' in favor of 'ok but I might want to leave inappropriately soon after we arrive." We agreed my response to her invitation was odd but fair.

After walking 23 mins longer than promised, we finally got there, me awkwardly sweating from carrying a backpack, plus pushing my bike and myself uphill. The host offered to make me a drink: my options consisting of vodka, coke zero, or a combination of the two. I declined, feeling like the only successful prodigy of Nancy Reagan's campaign in a room full of people forgoing the mixer because it was a waste of space in their cup. Then I just felt old, realizing that most people there were born after Reagan finished his presidency.

Having established I'm ok coming to a party and being a wet blanket, I looked around to see if there was anyone to strike up a conversation with. There were a bunch of guys calling each other 'bro' in one corner and talking excitedly about something, so I decide to head in the other direction and sat across from a guy thoughtfully watching fashion models walk down a runway. It was jarring for the simple reason most of my friends don't have a television in their homes anymore - either due to its pervasive effect, or the fact you can watch everything online. Hipsters and haredi people really have a lot in common.

"I really enjoy the thought-provoking storyline," I said deadpan. For some reason I thought being sarcastic would be a good way to begin my new friendship.

He smiled uncertainly and explained that it was, "For the ambiance more than the plot."

"Looking to spice up your wardrobe?"I asked with a raised eyebrow before realizing this is probably not the way to talk to a complete stranger. I instantly regretted not having a cup full of vodka instead of stupid water.

"No, I mean.." he trailed off as his eye remain transfixed at the women hypnotically walking up and down runways.

I looked around the party; it was something I would have enjoyed when I was their age. But it was more than that - I had already checked off this box in the bingo game of life. I started getting practical on myself: how much could I accomplish at a pregaming for the night when I had no intention of drinking or going bar hopping? When was the last time I pregamed for anything? What was I really doing there?

I started furiously looking at my phone in order to be engaged in something. At that point I realized if I had to look at my phone to be entertained, I might as well just leave. If I'm not there for the people, then I'm not really at the party. Not only that, but I had come so far on my journey in life, why go back to a stage that I had left in favor of loftier, more long term goals?

While having my coming-of-age moment I got a text: it was a friend inviting me to brunch in her sukkah the next morning. This is what I wanted - not necessarily more carbs, but time in the sukkah, focusing on the holiday, the spiritual. Something that wouldn't give me a hangover the next day, although perhaps another kind of regret when my skirts won't zip after the holiday season finishes.

With that, I put away my phone and picked up my bag. I said my farewells, making sure to thank the host for his tap water, and began the uphill bike ride home. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was in much better shape than I anticipated, and was able to climb the hills with minimal distress. It was reaffirming - a timely reminder that the efforts we put in over time to work hard and get better at anything do pay off as long as you are consistent. Whether it is climbing hills on your road bike or leaving certain types of events or behaviors in your past, change is possible.