When I was in my twenties, I lived for a party. Back then I lived for the extremes, and regarded a hefty RSVP list as a badge of honor, a success metric to which I could benchmark my self-worth. Never mind the fact that parties, in and of themselves, gave me massive anxiety. I’d spend hours agonizing over the food (I always served too much of it; something invariably splattered a sink or a wall), and during the said soiree, I was overly attuned to everyone’s comfort to the point of exhaustion. Were people getting along? Did I invite the right mix of people? Did they really like the chicken skewers or were they just being kind? Did they really like me, or was the free alcohol bait? Invariably, I’d find myself wondering if all these people in my home really knew me, and whether they actually liked me? Or was their presence a gesture of sympathy, some sort of store-bought kindness? As a result, I’d find myself drinking too much, saying all the wrong things, and waking to an ocean of regret.
Funny how time sorts things.
Much has changed over the years. In nearly all aspects of my life, I’ve stopped aching for the largeness of things. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, when in fact it’s exhausting. Instead of accumulating contacts en masse, I’ve focused on cultivating deeper relationships with a select few. I’ve a handful of people in my life whom I love beyond measure, whose friendship I’ve worked tirelessly to nurture and grow. I can be my most raw and vulnerable self; I can switch off the lights and be off for a while and they’ll love me regardless. My friendships are no longer exhaustive performances where I’m relegated to a stage, left to tap my feet and mime happiness. As a result, my world is small, but richer, and I’m okay with not having my home teeming with people. Granted, I’ve an active “online” life, where I’ve met a handful of great women who I’ve added to my circle, but generally my world is lean and I prefer it that way.
Simple and small have become words I revere rather than abhor.
Before I left for India I thought about hosting a large (large for me) housewarming party. I purchased fancy invites and mailed them out to over 40 friends. Then the largeness of the event, and balancing everyone’s calendars, settled in, and I became anxious. And although this time was different, even though I knew and loved everyone I invited, all I could do was shudder when I thought of all that had to be done leading up to the event. Ultimately, I ended up cancelling the housewarming and offered vague responses when my friends asked if I’d plans to reschedule. Reschedule? My god, I wanted to forget that I even came up with the idea.
Instead, over the past few months, I’ve hosted smaller gatherings, which have been more intimate in nature. I’ve had a few friends over for dinner, movies, or ice cream, and I’ve mixed it up so that a few folks are meeting one another for the first time. I don’t have one group of friends, per se, rather it’s a motley lot, a beautiful patchwork of all the people I’ve assembled in my life. All the people whom I love. All the people I matter–from the new friendships that have blossomed to the longtime friends in who leaves I whisper, whose soil I replant.
Yesterday, I had a few friends come by for my first of many ice cream socials. I serve up a few flavors, some healthy bits, and there’s lots of gossip, conversation, and movie watching. I’m proud to say that this blueberry ice cream with oat crumble topping and blueberry preserves was a SHOWSTOPPER. I mean people who questioned the worth of blueberry ice cream had second and third scoops. While they had some of my lovely acai (recipe coming tomorrow), they focused on the main attraction, and probably the finest ice cream I’ve made to date.
When my friends left and I cleaned my house and packaged up all the leftovers, I felt sated. I felt relieved that I’m finally at the place in my life where I know I have the kind of people in my life who inspire and challenge me. It feels good to have all this love.