When an "eVite" came announcing an opportunity to eat cookies, drink ciders and meet a variety of new friends, I stopped to hesitate a few seconds on whether I'd be able to handle the sort of the high brow friends of the hostess Patty, a recent Ivy league MBA graduate. But I couldn't pass up the novelty of it all and clicked "yes" before wikiLeaks could steal my thunder.
I carpool with another friend Amy; and we notice we've forgotten to coordinate our looks. Her ensemble is rocker chick going for a hike, complete with ripped jeans and orange flash trimmed sneakers. Mine is confused corporate mom, wide legged black slacks and a purple sweater. Good thing no one in the party seem to really know anyone else, or at least not well enough to form groups yet when we arrive.
We find two college aged guys slouched against the only two chairs in the dinning room, their long legs outstretched to take up much of the rest of the room. They stand to greet us and I quickly dub the slightly shorter one as "the poet", as he has that soulful dark eyed yet pale skinned anemic and tortured look about him. The other towers over me in conversation, works in a graduate school program, and rids a motor cycle. He seems to blush occasionally, or quite often actually, as the neighboring conversations rise and fall, the roomful of people ebb and flow, energy surges and drains all around us. In fact there are such interesting weather patterns on his face I hardly remember to scan and work the room until I drain my third cup of cider and have polished off another plate of cookies.
I run into a pack of three friends, colleagues of the hostess near the cider dispenser in the kitchen. The boy in the middle has retro chic sideburns and dark eyes that belonged to another time. I wondered if he was related to his friend on the right, a girl with the same dark eyes, cheek bones and long dark curls tumbling down below her shoulders. But they are not. His girl friend who is studying in another state would visit soon and the dark haired girl used to be her roommate. The girl on the left has the kind of pale complexion, soft voice and golden hair that reminds you of sunshine or melting butter. Or if you were me, she'd remind you of an incredible caregiver. She is also in graduate studies after working for a few years. Moreover, the four of them have all worked or been roommates (the girls) at one point or another and have all been good friends for a long time. I feel a twinge of envy as I hear this, never having been good at carrying long time friendships, especially in a "complex mixed group (as they say)" scenario as this. They exudes the kind of confidence you see in young professionals who has graduated just long enough to be considered experienced, but still too young and passionate to be thought of as jaded. They are the core of their teams and wherever they maybe they will be the last included in any "down sizing" discussions. Having been there made it that much more bittersweet to see my past reflected in all the promises and heartbreaks a youth, like theirs, will bring.
I move to fetch some more cookies and encounter a girl in an orange red maxi dress with long curly blond hair and blue eyes. She is talking to an athletic looking guy who mirrors her hearty laughs, dancing eyes and wild gestures in conversation. They talk with the kind of abandon that make you think a fascinating story is being told, then you realize it may have been about the weather and you don't care. You want to join and be part of this group to share all the fun they must be having, then you wonder if you will look like the awkward new kid in school trying to join the cool kids circle. I stand on the fringe not sure whether to look on or move on, surprised when they throw a smiling glance and invite me into the conversation with a touch on my arm and a slight shift of their stances. As I have not quite mastered the art of conversation when you talk about nothing yet everything, where you gesture and wink and bend over laughing at the slightest hints of humor, I smile and listen and laugh with them as best as I could but I move on after a polite amount of time has passed and an opportunity presents itself.
Soon it is time to say goodbye, and I tally the guests to see I have talked to most of them if not all. Amy had a good time talking to a guy named Vincent, chatting up a storm about LA culture and the finer nuances of the "valley girl" lingo. Except one young couple wearing red who addressed each other as "my finance", everyone seem young, single and lovely. I picture myself from their cloudless eyes and I fail to conjure anything up. This is an oddly familiar scene, from long ago and more recently, and a part of me had thought I would never return when I said "I do". Yet another part is glad the pain of breaking that vow is no longer fresh, that I can mix and mingle anywhere as if I belonged, though I know things to be different and will never be the same.