"There was nothing wrong with not wanting - not needing - the constant jostle and noise of a party or bar or... whatever.”
- Charles de Lint
When I was in my twenties, I enjoyed the late night twistings and turnings of a club. I felt alive when the dance music, far too loud, felt like it was pounding into my flesh and through my veins. I wanted that sweaty, otherworldly feeling when the lights pulsed and the weird gyrations of fellow partiers were illuminated frame-by-frame. And I...my fuzzy-headed intoxicated self...would laugh and raise my hands and pretend I could dance.
That time is long since past.
A dear friend of mine just celebrated his fortieth birthday (FINALLY! I feel like I've been waiting FOREVER for him to get here!) and his lovely wife decided to surprise him with a dinner out and a comedy club trip. The end of the evening was iffy but I told her that you can get into the country music bar (complete with mechanical bull) next door free with admission to the comedy club.
We had a great night. It was so good to see my friend (even though he texted me almost immediately to tell me we were in a fight because I hadn't told him something important) and we laughed our butts off at the raw humor of the comedians.
But at the END of the night, most of the people in our group peeled away to head home to little ones or for other reasons of their own.
So, a small group of us stood there trying to decide what to do. What did I want? I wanted to go home and put my jammies on and snuggle with my Labradoodle. See, the time has passed for me to stand around deciding what to do at 10 p.m....even if it's a weekend night and I don't have anywhere particular to be early the next morning.
I love my friend SO MUCH. And what I REALLY would have liked to do is have an old-fashioned slumber party...I would have enjoyed sitting around drinking coffee and eating cake and talking about life in general. I miss him terribly because I don't get to see him very often and I didn't want to share him with a club. These days what I want is connection...not a party.
We halfheartedly went to the country bar next door and, even though I pointed out the mechanical bull (remembering my OWN 40th birthday celebration), we only stayed a few minutes and then went back out into the parking lot because the other members of the party wanted to find some additional "fun." I opted for jammies and the Labradoodle. My friend lamented that he wished he would have known that girl in her twenties who was always looking for fun but I can counter that here: THIS girl is so much more real and so much happier and grounded than that lost party girl ever was.
So, I came up with a list of alternate ways for groups to spend time instead of "clubbin'."
- Learn to knit and start a knitting club. (OK, I'm totally kidding about this one but I figured it would be a HILARIOUS way to start the list. No? Moving on....)
- Take a late night nature walk. I'm actually not kidding about this. There is nothing more magical than a late night where you can see the stars, strolling along with a glass of wine in hand. I can almost HEAR the Vivaldi playing in the background in my head. I do realize that this NEVER HAPPENS but it totally SHOULD. Here in town, you can't even see the stars anymore because of all the light pollution, but one of my FAVORITE things to do when I go camping is to be out under the stars drinking wine and talking with people I love. I think we should do this more often...alone and in small groups. Perhaps if everyone stopped being scared of being out in the dark then the night would become less scary. (Author's note: This is coming from someone who has absolutely zero sense of personal safety so....please don't blame me if anything happens to you on a late night walk.)
- Go home and TALK. Stop using the "we have kids" as an excuse. Remember when you were a kid and your parents had friends over and you fell asleep listening to the sounds of grown-ups clinking glasses and shuffling cards? Those sounds are comforting and a wonderful reminder of how connected we can be to people. You don't need to be out in a club. Bring it home. Play card games with your friends. Laugh. Connect.
- Go skating. OK, my knees can't take this anymore but I would totally go to a skating rink with a group of friends (as long as I was fully outfitted with knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet to cushion my head from the inevitable connection with the floor). It's lighthearted and old-school but, once again, offers the ability to connect with people in a way that you can't with music pounding so loud you can't hear anything said unless you're actually roaring to each other. Maybe they have 80's skate nights for all of us codgers!
- Find a coffee shop that serves decaf. We need more late-night coffee shops in our area. I want those jazzy little places with poets who wear black turtlenecks having open-mic night. I have a friend from college (you know who you are...shout out to my long-lost friend in PA!) who used to spend time with me at a little coffee shop called Cup O' Joes. The coffee there was so strong I swear it poured like syrup. We would sit there for HOURS chain-smoking and drinking cups of barely-liquid caffeine. Later at night we would go to this Days Inn restaurant where we would eat cheese fries and pour our OWN cups of coffee when the waitress was busy. These are some of the fondest memories of my life. I don't remember what we talked about but I do remember that I love that girl. We couldn't have connected like that in a club.
So here and now, publicly, I am breaking up with clubs in general. I bid you adieu. I'm on to the Next Fun Thing now that my definition of fun has changed.