I had it all planned out. I had never been to the Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival, and I was going to go for the very first time. Friends were playing both days, and one of my favorite singer songwriters --who I've never seen perform live -- was also playing. There were volunteer opportunities, and there were even tickets on TDF. And then Sunday came along, and all I wanted to do was sleep in. Which would have worked, had the fire alarm battery not chosen 7:30 AM to give up the ghost -- and wake me out of a sound sleep with its insistent chirp.
So I got up and blogged, and I dragged myself to spin class, and I came home and cleaned up the piles of papers and wetsuits and dirty dishes cluttering up the apartment, and at some point during the day I remembered that we had a big package of merguez sausage in the fridge that wanted to be grilled up, and on a whim Josh and I invited friends over for an impromptu barbeque.
I invited friends I've known for 20 years and friends I've known for 3 months. Some knew each other already, and most didn't. And except that it was hard for some of my friends to find parking, and then they had to wend their ways through the bedroom to get out to the back yard, it felt like one of my Portland gatherings -- relaxed and open and intergenerational and sometimes awkward (but usually not) and throwing people together who have heard about each other over the years and seeing what it's like when they get a chance to meet.
One of my favorite parts of the party was a chess lesson I received from a 5-year-old, that started with the following instruction: It's very important that you don't drop the pieces over the side of the stairs and into the bushes. But if you do, it's OK, because we can climb down and get them. Even if you happen to drop them into the neighbor's yard. But that's not ever going to happen in a tournament. A tournament is like a big room where everyone plays for serious. OK? You understand? He went on to become quite disappointed in some of my pathetic moves that resulted in great loss on both sides. When I defended my moves by saying that chess is a game of war, and that war has casualties, he got quite serious and told me that I was wrong, and that I needed to learn how to play better, and that he would have made better choices. And I'm sure he would have.
Another moment I loved was when my friend Ken, who is visiting from the West Coast, and whom I have not seen since I moved to New York 9 years ago, asked me if I could show him around my favorite parts of New York while he's here -- show him what makes me stay. I thought about that for a second, and then I realized I didn't actually need to go anywhere to show him why I stay in Brooklyn, and I pointed at my friend sitting next to me. And then at his partner and son. Ken got it right away.
And then I did too. I looked around this party, completely content to be in the company of old friends and new, basking in the presence of the reasons I stay in New York.