Thursday, December 9, 2010

Memory Punch: The Last Party

“Get me a giant punch bowl,” I called out to my husband Mr. W as I rushed off for a last-minute pre-party workout. “No… get me a trough. I’m going to make a punch with every remaining bottle of booze we have in the bar and throw in some lemonade to make it tasty.

I returned from the gym and laughed. There, on the bar, sat a giant freshly-cleaned clear tote practically big enough to hold our 80 pound boxer. I should’ve known Mr. W would take my word literally. I showered and got dressed, thinking of all I had to do to prepare. It was going to be a very small get-together, but I wanted it to be fun and flawless, much like my other parties in the basement bar of the home we’re selling.

It started with our epic housewarming party when we bought the house in 2007. We were so proud of our bar with its red wall lined with autographed band photos and pictures of mermaids in martini glasses, the wooden bar Mr. W had built himself while I spent four days sunning myself on the beaches of Cancun with my best friend Sydney… and of course, the crowning glory, the stripper pole we put up more for bragging rights than anything sexy and that was climbed by more drunk male friends than hot ladies.

That first party was a hilarious disaster I wish I remembered more of. In lieu of a housewarming gift, we had everyone bring a bottle of alcohol to stock our bar. Mr. W promptly drank his weight in beer and passed out by 10 PM, leaving me unsupervised with tons of alcohol and friends who were bad influences. When you ask guests to bring bottles, well…they’ll want to sample those bottles.

“You need to have more control over me,” I said the next day as I vomited purple Gatorade into the toilet, soothed my pounding headache with Advil and screeched in horror at the pictures on my camera and vague memories of bits of revealing conversations I’d had with people I barely knew.

“There’s no controlling you and you know it,” he said. Ah, my soulmate.

Since then, there had been New Years’ Eve parties, birthday parties, slumber parties, “Why the hell not” parties, and pity parties in that bar. That bar was where Mr. W and I had some incredibly tough conversations over the summer about our future as a couple and in general. That bar was where my friend chose to hide from the world after her father was taken from her in a house fire and where I was honored to provide her with hugs and wine. There's some downright awesome stuff that happened in that bar. Out of every room in the house we are leaving, I think the bar is the room I will miss the most.

This party was The Last of the Official Parties. Titled “Thanks for the Memories,” it was to be the wrap up of the housewarming party. Instead of bringing in new alcohol, our job was to get rid of the old. I laughed as I made the “punch” and recalled how we’d acquired each bottle and nearly cried when I saw the bar sitting emptier than it had been in years. My friends trickled in, all but one of them part of the “old crowd.” We had to distance ourselves from most of the old crowd over the years, something that happens when you’re in your twenties and you befriend people that turn out to be less than stellar. But everyone from the group we still talk to showed up. Even though they were busy and even though it was the holidays and there were a million other excuses. They came for Memory Punch.

I snacked and drank punch until the room got fuzzy and the stories got a little more inappropriate. I snuck upstairs to get more ice and stepped into the bathroom to re-apply lip gloss. At our house, you can hear anything that happens in the basement through the vents in the upstairs bathroom and bedrooms. I could hear my friends talking and laughing as I searched for my pink lip gloss.

I stopped for a moment and listened, thinking of how beautiful it was to hear those voices in that bar one last time. I don’t know when, or if, each of them will ever be in the same room again. All of us are making changes in our lives and I realized that my have been the last time I ever heard those particular voices in that particular bar. Instead of being sad about that, I found myself filled with gratitude that they’d made it for this last party. I don’t know what the future holds but each person in the bar that night was a very special part of my twenties and my time in that house and I don’t think they’ll ever know how much it truly means to me that we shared so much together.

“Isn’t it cool,” I said as I returned with the ice and chips, “that no matter where life takes us, how much time goes by or what happens, we all keep returning to each other?” They nodded in agreement as I filled their cups with more Memory Punch.

I believe in living for the present and setting goals for the future. But sometimes, you’ve got to reminisce about the past. 


sherryrose said...

i miss the bar already. and i miss you already. you can't leave! that's the BEST BASEMENT EVER.

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