I recently thought about how a lifetime resembles a party. I think about shit like this sometimes, but a lot more since I turned the age my mother was when I was born.
When you arrive, everything is fresh. Drinks flow, there’s lots of exciting things happening and you’re dizzy with the constant stream of “new.” You’re not sure where to go or how many snacks you’re allowed to horde before being called that guy. You’re a little nervous, a little unsure of yourself, and could really use a guide.
Eventually, hopefully things even out a little. Maybe you said something dumb early on to that girl across the room, but that was over an hour ago. You’ve found a better rhythm, at least you think you have. Either way, now you’re more comfortable. You know just how many snacks you can grab before becoming that guy. But, you’re not as interested in just stuffing your face, since you’ve had enough chips and everyone already ate all the toppings off the nachos.
You lose track of time. Checking your watch at 12:01 a.m., you think, “Well, that’s funny, not too long ago it was only 9 o’clock Where did the last three hours go?” The snacks have further thinned out, but it’s OK since most people don’t notice. What’s left has either congealed or begun to get a little stale. No one’s going to think you’re that guy now. They don’t even know you’re still here, they’re too busy worrying about getting another drink or how they’ll get home tonight.
Here is where the party can go in a couple different directions. It’s 1 or 2 a.m. You have enjoyed yourself, but you’re tired. The drinks are gone, the food is gone. Grab a taxi, say goodbye, you’ve had your fun and you’re leaving without anyone calling you a greedy pig for eating the congealed cheese off the nacho plate. It was a good life.
I mean, it was a good party.
Or, you could run out and pick up a couple more bottles (if we’re in Korea, that is. Perhaps not if we were in New Jersey). Grab some pizzas. There’s still fun to be had. We’re not done yet. We’ve got hours until sunrise.
By 5:30 a.m., everyone is tired, everyone still here, that is. Most of the partygoers are gone. Most you didn’t even realize had left until they’d been gone for hours. You check your phone as first light carries the high rises behind high rises into concrete-colored relief with the hazy sky. Hopefully, by now, you know it’s time to go.
Hopefully, you didn’t shotgun that bottle of Jinro Red you got two hours ago because you were desperate to hold on to the night. If you did, hopefully you didn’t lose your place in the story. Hopefully, you’re not coming in and out of it now, wondering where you are, who you are, why you are and for how long you will be. Hopefully, when the fog clears, you won’t be the last one left in the room, left to clean the mess, or lie down in it. Hopefully, you’ll get to leave quietly, without drama, with a smile, with your best friends by your side.
It was a good party. It was a good life.