Friday night, I had the privilege of attending my friend’s seventeenth birthday bash. The setup was highly reminiscent of exactly what you’d consider a seventeenth birthday party to be, what with the lawn chairs spread in a sensible circle around a brick fire pit, anxiously awaiting for their purpose to be fulfilled. Christmas lights glittered upon the back deck, wrapped around its supports, draped over the rails.
A plastic picnic table kitty-corner to the congregation of chairs held chips, hot dogs, chex mix galore-enough food to feed a hungry lacrosse team for a few days. It would hold us off for a few hours.
I pulled up in my grandparents’ old Bonneville
which cost me less than the computer I am typing these words on with a highly caffeinated saccharine beverage for the birthday girl, seeing as my gift for her was more up the gag-gift alley rather than anything heartfelt or thoughtful. An “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From My Cat” book and straw glasses aren’t necessarily a fulfilling birthday present as they are. Other presents included, but were not limited to:
- An extremely heartfelt trio of photographs artfully arranged within an old window frame
Within the first half hour of the party, people filed in like it was her graduation party rather than a casual get-together to celebrate another revolution around the sun. My closest ties to the guests were the birthday girl herself and three other ladies I’ve grown to know in the past year whom, unfortunately, I’ve barely spoken to over the summer. These ties we have to people loosen over time, and I am aware it happens to everyone, but it pains me to realize how much I crave their company after not contacting them for months. It’s like a burst of adrenaline that you don’t miss when it’s gone, but when it’s in your system, it’s all you can think about.
As all us party-goers attend the same school, I was stuck in that awkward ‘I recognize you and I know I know you but I’m that person who still has to ask what your name is’ situation that made me feel like a less-than-fantastic human being. I swallowed my pride and asked those whose names had escaped me who they were, and nobody took noticeable offense, for which I am very thankful. It’s true that for a good part of the night I was the only one outside the majority’s graduating class, but that’s not a valid excuse. For someone who prides themselves in getting to know as many people as I possibly can on an intensive scale, not knowing the names of students I walk the same halls with seems rude.
As the birthday girl opened her gifts, the fire that we had struggled to set aflame burnt to cinders in preparation of the coals we were to roast hot dogs on for the celebratory meal. After hugs were given and presents whisked away, we feasted.
The rest of the night consisted of storytelling, a phenomenal rendition of the birthday song, a botched age on the birthday cake (yes, it was supposed to say ‘2’ instead of ’17’), and many (many) mosquitoes. To whomever invented bug repellent, bless you. You make life less itchy. Not completely itchless, but less itchy.
I ended up leaving before most everyone had gone home, so I missed whatever shenanigans ensued once I left, but by that time-as I told an equally emotional friend of mine-I get so easily attached platonically that by the end of the night I wanted to just up and tell everyone I loved them. I don’t know if I fall in love with the experience of being with people or with the people themselves, but either way, man, the attachment is real.
Some of the highlights of the day included an introduction to a miniature playhouse and fairy garden in the backyard;
a cheese-whiz attack;
sharing backwash with friends;
and, even if I was the only one to experience it, growing a little bit closer to the people I’ll spend my last year of high school with in a devastatingly picturesque backyard.
Happy birthday, ya dancing Queen.