Saturday night found me driving up the bay to San Francisco to meet a room full of strangers in a nice apartment overlooking the Embarcadero. Irene had described the soiree as a “small, intimate, grown up” affair, and in my head that translated to black ties, cocktail dresses and prosciutto wrapped bites of sea scallops. It had been some time since I had been to anything described as “grown up,” so I hastily prepared a short spiel on 401Ks (to keep in my back pocket should a conversation run dry) and away I went.
When we arrived, I was thankful I had decided against wearing my long white gloves as everyone was lounging around in casual shirts and jeans. There were also no prosciutto wrapped bites to be had, but there was Glenlivet. I accepted a small glass of it and pretended to take long, thoughtful sips. In between each sip, I’d comment on the smoothness of it, the robustness of the flavor. I thought about asking if anyone knew if it had been aged in oak barrels because I could have sworn I tasted a hint of that. If I had been at a non-grown up party, I might have asked if it was supposed to burn and make my eyes water or if this was actually something people drink for fun. But seeing as how I was at a mature party, I kept that to myself.
Holding my glass, I soon found myself talking to the new people around me and saying the things I have heard myself say so many times before . Yep, grew up in San Jose. Nope, I don’t live in the city. I used to, but not anymore. I work in San Jose, too. How’d we meet? Well, I’d always heard of Glen, but haven’t gotten around to trying him ’til today. Oh, oh, you mean me and Irene? Oh, of course. Through a mutual friend in L.A. Behind me, I could hear Irene recounting something similar to someone else.
Some opened up the conversation with “where do you live?” and still others preferred the classic “what do you do?” I used to cringe at that question, had hated when it would come up, had hated answering it. But now I look forward to its arrival because I am so curious to begin picturing each person each day in their work role. This person behind a desk, this person deciding on cabinets, this person checking on cells in petri dishes. One woman that night had it all together: she held the title of Director, she had her MBA, she had long, sleek hair. She probably never ate lunch unaccompanied, and never, ever alone at her desk.
As we gathered our things together to go down to the bar a few blocks away — and made mad last minute dashes to the bathroom — I thought about having my stuff together. I wanted to have my stuff together. I wasn’t sure exactly what that would involve, but it was a nice thought, and with that we went down the elevator and into the brisk night air.
The night progressed and it soon became evident that the night’s theme was waiting. Waiting in lines, waiting on street corners, waiting, waiting. At times it was unclear why we were waiting or if we were even waiting for anyone or anything at all. But there we were, a group of waiting individuals, all of us so unevenly matched in our levels of intoxication.
Our first stop of the night was the Bubble Lounge, a place with a tiny dance floor on the bottom floor. If you could contain your body movements and mind where you were swaying your hips, it was not so bad at all, but it was soon decided that the waiting must take precedence and so we found ourselves outside again, waiting. The waiting afforded some time to think about one’s life. The bright sounds and lit up streets helped provide inspiration. I tried picturing my stuff. And having it all… together. I imagined suitcases lined up in a hallway, in front of a door. That didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t piece the image together…
After a few hours, the issue of food came up, and there is no denying a waiting group food in the very earliest hours of the day. At a taqueria, we took turns ordering, and I sat across from the woman who had it all together. Except at that particular moment, she didn’t look as though she had it all together, not while she was being held up by the man next to her, her eyes closed, her long, sleek hair draping over her face.
When we left, I rubbed my belly in satisfaction. Then I looked up and saw the Together Woman being led out, her hand over her mouth. And then, as she walked down the sidewalk, she did something very un-together. Her hand, hard as it tried, couldn’t hold it back, and out spewed throw up all over. It even hit a poor passerby’s heeled foot. And then she fell in front of a group of policemen.
So although I’m not sure what it is I need to have it all together, I think I’ve started crossing things off the list. Like that scene. That scene is definitely not on my Having It All Together list. That should count for something.