It finally came to pass, after months of planning. From the minute I saw that deck, I saw party. Despite pouring rain the first time and a foot of snow after I'd put in my successful offer, the house's emotional pull came from the vision of kids and teenagers in the big family room, with parents in the kitchen and on the deck. By the time party day was looming, we had a forecast of 102 degrees.
I'd thought through the guest list. Could I combine my kids' school friends and their parents with my grownup gang from my single life? It would all shake out, I reasoned. My daughter and I had agonized over the music mix, and I was still tinkering with it at midnight when the day finally came. I am forty-three, but might well have been a teenager worrying about whether friends would show up. This was not a dinner party, but one where people might decide their presence wouldn't be missed.
I spent my day off dusting and knocking off cobwebs from places I'd never noticed before, and before I knew it, it was time to collect the children from school. I hadn't heard from the caterer at Central Market, and kept getting voicemail. Finally at three-thirty I reached a real person, who said my order was marked for pickup and not delivery. Then she pulled the actual form and declared that the entry had been incorrect and that she would get in the car immediately. I was glad my professional brain had kicked in and decided to call. Kudos to the true professional on the other end.
An hour before the start, my hired bartender had arrived. The drinks were iced, the food was out. Tick, tock. I called a couple of close friends who wouldn't laugh at my neurotic concern, and they assured me they were on their way. A half-hour after the official start, it seemed that everyone arrived at once.
It all went by in a blur. There was a gaggle of sweaty ten year old boys who ran and wrestled on the front lawn, a collection of tweener girls mingled and strolled together, and a cluster of women gathered at the kitchen island, low talkers all. The rest of the gang, once they'd had a tour and exclaimed over the house--much to my delight, as I realized quite a bit of my decorating in past months was done with the idea of The Party--hit the deck. It was bloody hot (note to self, more beer, less wine, though we didn't run out) but the shade and the number of native Texans helped.
By nine-thirty, it was down to a few of us. Then a good friend brought new friends, and I finally allowed myself to be poured a full glass of wine and sat down for the first time all day. We all got wise for awhile. I really did hit it off with someone who'd arrived at the party to meet me specifically, and then my daughter arrived back from her other party and suddenly it was time for everyone to go, and the house was as quiet as it had been before they descended.