Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm a Party Girl

Those who know me and love me, know that I'm not fond of parties. I avoid them actually. Even if I accept an invitation, it's a pretty good bet that I'll cancel within four days of the event.

Why? Well, about four years ago while I was in college, I got into a little trouble with friendships and relationships. My life was spiraling out of control because of bad decisions and the people I was hanging around. I also did something really stupid while really drunk.

The remedy? I put myself into seclusion. I cut almost everybody out of my life, became a nanny, and learned to enjoy my own company again. I ended up dropping out of college with only ten credits to go, but that's just a side effect.

The result? Everything eventually became very quiet in my head. That's the best way I can describe it. That feeling is addictive. It really is. This inner peace and centeredness. I started a couple hobbies. Cross stitching and crossword puzzles. I started listening to countless books on tape. For a couple years, I didn't even have cable.

Over the last couple years, I've let myself make friends again. (This is not related to the boyfriends, fiances, and now husband. I never cut myself off from having a romantic relationship. I just became far more selective). My first friend, Mary, chose me. I had just started the job that I currently have, and within a month, she started coming by my cube and talking to me. Sometimes for an hour at a time. Couldn't help a real friendship from developing, and now she's my best friend, even though she's left the company.

Then, I started sharing personal current life details with my boss. We both have baby boys -- I found out I was pregnant the week before she went on maternity leave -- and we both enjoy reading actual books and reading celebrity gossip blogs. Now, there isn't much we don't share with each other. But it's mostly a work-based friendship.

I know a lot of people, and I'm friendly with almost everybody. People have just learned that even though you have to invite Cheryl to parties, she will probably graciously decline, but will inevitably buy a present to compensate.

Here's the deal on why I don't like parties now. One, I don't drink. Most of that is fear that I'll do another Really Stupid Thing. The other is that I take Zoloft, and mixing that with alcohol is dumb. But if I commit another RST, I can't run away from this life that I now have. I have my own roots now... a baby... a husband. Unless I could convince hubby to run away with me, I'd be stuck.

Two, I don't have a huge amount of patience for making small talk with people I don't really like. This happened when I realized that I could live a happy life without being surrounded by people. It also happened when I realized I could tell people to leave me alone. "You've been in my apartment for ten minutes now. That's enough. This visit is over. Please leave." Oh sure, if I wanted to, I could talk with strangers for hours. I finished the journalist training of my degree, and I'm really good at interviewing and asking interesting questions to create interesting conversation. I just don't care enough.

Three, I don't like being around other people who are drinking. People always tell me that it's okay that I don't drink, I can just watch other people make asses of themselves. Um. Okay. But there have been times in my life where people who are drunk have done their own RST. I don't want to be involved in that. I like sobriety. I like knowing that the person I'm talking to will remember it the next day, and I like knowing that the person I'm talking to is genuine and not filtered through a boozy haze. I don't have any time for people who get all cuddly and friendly when they're tipsy, but don't have the time of day for me when they're sober.

I make exceptions. One time in particular is holidays with my family. One of my sisters usually manages to sneak in some wine, and will surreptiously serve it in paper cups to the rest of the sisters. My mother is very anti-alcohol, but my family is full of very strong personalities, and sometimes, a little loopiness is necessary to relax. And I limit myself to an ounce or two.

So, two weeks ago, my husband's department announced its annual Christmas party. And Chester arranged for Mary (above-mentioned best friend) to come and babysit. And of course I spent the last week trying to get out of it. No luck.

I like a lot of the people in my husband's department. They're a bunch of sarcastic, witty, computer geeks. They can handle my "zingers" and can dish it out just as well. But when it comes to get-togethers, I'd rather be at home folding laundry or playing with Ben.

The upside is, the parties are held at the homes of executives or upper management. Their homes are usually new construction with a rec area in the basement. That means a big screen tv, comfy couches and a pool table. So, last night, while most people were upstairs around the food, Chester and I hung out downstairs and pretended to know how to play pool. We really can't play well. I made small talk while watching tv with my husband's boss's wife (I still don't know her name). We stayed for an hour.

And guess what. Now, I get to start planning my housewarming party. Because even though the people in my department know I don't do parties, they're insisting that I have a housewarming party to show off my new house. Bastards. Maybe I'll serve booze and get nice and toasted along with my coworkers. Yeah, right.