It doesn’t matter that it’s never, ever happened before. It doesn’t matter that my phone is pinging away with texts, “What can I bring?” and “Can’t wait.” I am plagued by party fear. The scenario: I have candles and sangria and a lot of fancy, funky cheese and dark chocolate and twisty breads. The minutes and hours tick by and there I am, totally alone, a tear falling in my sangria, my playlist coming to an end.
Not everyone shares my hang-up. I have friends haunted by an opposite anxiety — that too many people will show — unruly, raucous crowds. They will hang from the rafters, overrun their apartment, chaos will reign. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but that doesn’t sound too terrible to me.
The “white or red?” texts change to “I can’t make it,” “My mom is sick,” “My tummy hurts.” Even my roommate is MIA. I pour myself some bubbly: Deep breaths.
And then they come. Elevators full of friends, and friends of friends. They have dangly earrings, and bowls of quinoa, and plates of cupcakes, and designer gin, and sparkly voices, and enveloping hugs.
Somewhere in the midst of the night, the elevator abruptly stops working. My buzzer is uncooperative, too, which happens sometimes. My lovely boyfriend keeps heading up and down the stairs, six flights, to bring up guests, who arrive slightly or not so slightly out of breath.
More background: I have no fridge or freezer. They have died right in time for this party, in celebration of my 27th birthday, and in a moment of panic I reach out to some well-meaning friends, who suggest moving the show to a bar. Maybe somewhere more centrally located than my apartment in Harlem. The hardware store doesn’t have a cooler, nor does Duane Reade.
But I am stubborn, and I love house parties. My inner voyeur loves seeing where people live, their natural habitats. In New York we do everything in public. It’s nice to go home, or to someone else’s home, kick off your shoes, sink into a couch or curl up cross-legged on the floor. Nobody needs to turn tables, or for you to buy a bottle (ugh). Having parties makes my apartment feel more like a home, fills it with good people and their good energy and their happy mess.
My roomie comes to the rescue with two big coolers from Kmart. My boyfriend is an ice-carrying hero. Emily helps arrange beer and bubbly in an ice cocoon, she’s got it under control. Her sister arranges lime slices in an elaborate sphere.
We eat and drink and carouse. People keep coming, and going, and coming. Somewhere around 2a.m., we are playing a game involving chimpanzee impressions and 80s music. Someone’s tall, hipsterish friend whispers in my ear, about my friend, “She’s beautiful.” She is indeed beautiful. Everyone is beautiful, stunning, and I am laughing so hard it hurts, and my heart is full of relief, and giant, heart-stopping love.