Sometimes it seems like we’re all living in some kind of a prison and the crime is how much we hate ourselves. It’s good to get really dressed up once in a while and admit the truth: That when you really look closely? People are so strange and so complicated that they’re actually. . . beautiful. Possibly even me.” – My So-Called Life, inscribed into my birthday card by my sister (who never watched the show but always knows the right thing to say to me)
I had been snowed out on my birthday before. I scolded myself for being self indulgent enough to even have birthday parties still, but really it’s the one time of year almost everyone comes out of the woodwork for some reason and I cook my best things and make my best cordials and I think, this is what it means to be happy, just as long as we’re together. I can hold onto these memories for the rest of the year and as the year goes on, all my petty grievances about the day will melt away and I will simply remember music and laughter and be reassured that we can all still pull it together even if it’s just for a night.
This year everyone seemed especially determined for my birthday. Maybe because tax season is just starting and because all of my free time will be writing this book I agreed to write, together making Q1 2016 seem more like a prison bid than an adventure and all my friends knew it. I had a dress that made me look like Christina Hendricks, all body-ody-ody and I planned on wearing a corset under it to increase the effect (also, it’s adorable when my SCAian friends try to subtly figure out if there’s a corset under there by hugging me just a beat longer than they would have). I had a menu. I had plans.
The whole week leading up to the party, I got myself into an emotionally abusive relationship with The Weather Channel who cruelly toyed with me, promising only an inch of snow one day and then four feet the next. Jow and I decided to go ahead and buy the food for the party anyway. I can’t explain it, but I felt like Angela Chase/Claire Danes ugly crying every time I thought about drinking all that champagne and portioning all that food out for dinners, just the two of us. I kept trying to tell myself it would be okay either way, because ultimately it would be, but I didn’t know how I would get through the actual darkest part of the year without this brightness.
The morning of the party, there was already a huge amount of snow. I decided to move the party to the following day for brunch because surely we would all be dug out by then. It wouldn’t be an evening event, but it would certainly be better than nothing. Besides, what could be more cheerful than a table full of food and champagne after digging one’s car out?
Our development is usually really good about digging us out and I had yet to not wake up to shoveling after a storm like this.
Except that morning.
We can’t see our parking lot from our rabbit burrow and the previous owner had the brilliant idea to put a glass door that opened out on our door. There was a huge drift of snow in front of our door and I didn’t know how to fix it as we were trapped in our house. I didn’t know if the roads were any good, I didn’t know if there was even any place to park.
But that’s when the glamour started happening. Our next door neighbor said the lot was clear and helped us dig out our door. Jow ran outside with a bottle of champagne and joined “the war effort” in digging out paths and cars with fellow neighbors as a merry group together. April and John talked me out of canceling the party and I thought, well. I’ll just see what happens I guess. I put on the dress, but I had little patience for it in the afternoon and put on a simpler dress and took off the corset.
Before I knew it, so many friends started tumbling through the door, laughing and talking and brushing snow off their boots, breathless that they made it. They brought me things that they made for me – mountains of Italian cookies and handmade jewelry. Elegant gifts of silver spoons shaped like tree branches. We drank French Pear martinis together and made a hot chocolate bar while my nephew ran around under foot, handing out tiaras and tiny woodland animal toys for everyone to partake with him. We ate like there was no tomorrow and looked through pictures from our early 20s, showing people who haven’t been with us for that long who was who while sitting on the kitchen floor. We popped champagne and put it in silver buckets full of snow and rose petals and passed around tiny pink cordials. Jow put together a plate full of tiny cakes and pies and stuck candles in everything that would hold one and I couldn’t even make a wish. Everyone had worked so hard to get to me, to be in a room together surrounded by love and memories, it was impossible not to feel overwhelmed in the best possible way.
It wasn’t what I expected. I expected little black dresses, talking until two in the morning and something obviously full of glamour. Something more obviously Baz.
Socks and party dresses, bowls full of snow as centerpieces, my nephew popping bubbles, my sister making me laugh, my friends hugging me so tight, my husband digging out my car for me. That’s what the Lady (Glamour) really looks like. To me at least. It’s easy to miss her sometimes, when you expect Her to be one thing and she’s really . . .everything.