when my sister and i were little, we went to a lot of parties. in our feetie pajamas. the shindigs were usually at my grandparents house, or at their best friends' house - a quintessential big victorian home with a wrap around porch at the base of a ski mountain that was once an inn and had a number on every door and a tiny sink in each room. my grandparents house also had a back staircase that served as the perfect spot to sit and just listen to the party after we had been sent to bed. we were a festive irish catholic family. i think irish catholic says it all. i had grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles and they had cousins and friends that were practically family and everyone liked to party. often. i have a lot of really great ridiculously happy childhood memories and a lot of them involve parties. impromptu ones after a day on the slopes and bigger, more official ones during holidays with big christmas trees and twinkly lights.
after spending the night dancing with the grownups, or being dazzled by uncle bill's magic tricks and his ability to find a quarter in my ear; and sneaking sips of whatever libations were in the glasses i was instructed to clear from the room - i could sit on the stairs for hours. to this day, i cannot hear frank sinatra singing 'fly me to the moon' or willie nelson singing 'georgia on my mind' without thinking about those nights. my grandparents singing and dancing, the sounds of laughter, dancing, ice clinking in glasses of scotch and the smell of a wood fire burning, twinkly christmas lights.
my sister and i were always on coat duty. i loved burying my face in the occasional fur coat and trying to keep track of who's coat belonged to whom. i loved being a tiny little fly on the wall of all the festivities around me. my sister and i were the only children and could be shameless centers of attention when we wanted to put on a show or completely invisible when we wanted to sneak some archway cookies from the kitchen.
i turned forty this week and we had a big party.
my kids were on coat duty, but my youngest was the only one who took this job seriously. my other two children holed up in the basement with mr. bean. after the movie, my middle child - the responsible one - marched herself up to her room and went to bed at 10 pm. and i think at one point my 12 year old emerged from the basment with nerf gun in hand and after talking with a few grownups, parked himself in front of the computer.
but lulu had other plans in mind. early in the evening, lulu was sitting on the stairs after having taken a bunch of coats up to plop on her brothers' bed and she was writing. very tongue-sticking-out intently. she documented the evening as follows:
My mom is haveing a big party. and I am stuck in the, well ... my mom and dad's room with the dog. so yeah. at the party whenever i hear people come in I run out of the room and rush downstairs and ask them "May I take your coat please" it is a realy easy job but right now I am brethless. My poor dog is sad she can't get out my parents wont let her out! Poor Mabel she's whineing! I wish I could let her out but she'll eat all the cake. And then there is a million pepole here I don't want her scare [frighten] them.
i loved that she planted herself on the stairs and documented things. there were other things documented: guests in attendance, and if she forgot their names, she would just indicate who's mom or dad it was. she also jotted down a list of "things for a party" which included cups, napkinz, cake, cupcake and a whineing dog. i loved seeing her sit on the pile of coats while she tried to find bessie's coat and she wasn't sure where fin's mom's coat was. i'm not sure how many cupcakes or cookies she snuck and i don't care. i love that she held center stage in the living room and danced. granted, she was wired to the hilt and i wonder if she snuck any bourbon slushies on trips through the kitchen; but she had a plan and was on a mission - one i didn't realize until midnight when i watched as she looked at the clock and saw that it said midnight - she proclaimed "yes! i did it!" and hours after her older sister and brother had gone up to bed, she herself headed up to bed. mission accomplished. night documented. a successful night of coat-taking, writing, tending to a whineing dog, and some questionable shake-your-money-maker sort of moves for a seven year old.
bourbon slushies and a keg of hell for certain replaced clinking ice in scotch glasses. there was still a little bit of frank sinatra crooning 'fly me to the moon'. there were twinkly lights and a wood burning fire outside, and a little girl dancing and then sitting, watching, writing from the stairs.