A Reason to Party by Amy Busse Perkins
Parties require reasons – or so I’ve always thought. My family wasn’t the spontaneous party throwing type, so there had to be a pretty good reason to hold one. My earliest party memories are of birthdays; either ones that I attended or ones that were held in my honor. My birthdays were sometimes strictly family affairs, my older siblings hovering while I stared down a cake and candles.
But other birthday bashes included my friends. When we were little we wore our party hats and blew the horns that were the favors of choice. I still remember my first slumber party; me opening presents with a gaggle of girls gathered around to watch as I entered a new year.
As I grew older parties were less about birthdays but still based on some excuse or other, no matter how flimsy. When I turned 18 my parents finally allowed me to stay home alone for a week while they took a trip to visit family. An empty house and a week to clean it up seemed reason enough for a party. It held all the typical elements of a my-parents-are-out-of-town for a week shindig. The downstairs bathtub held ice and assorted cans of beer. Loud music defied the walls of the living room, and even the house for that matter, and wafted its way into the warm air outside. Crumbs from potato chips were spilled in awkward places around the house. Cars were lined up along our long driveway, at various places on the street, and a few even stood sentry in our yard. (I promise I let no one drive home intoxicated!)
Away at college, the most frequent reasons for a party were the weekend, a fraternity dance, the end of midterms or finals, or just some guys standing outside our campus apartments yelling, “Hey y’all! Let’s party!” (I’m so grateful I actually learned something in college. The odds seemed stacked against me.)
The campus apartment I shared with three other women often became the place for late night gatherings with friends. In the bedroom I shared with my particular roommate, we painted our walls black and white, threw handfuls of glitter on the door and hung a strange purple cloth across our window instead of a curtain. For some reason this intimated that we were the place to hold a party. My roommate, who was also one of my best friends, and I were amenable to that, so quite often the party was at our place.
That same friend and I, along with a few others, once made our way to Memphis for another friend’s Annual Goat Roast. Yes, there was roasted goat and various and sundry other food and drink. When one of our acquaintances sat down behind a desk and set out a sign reading, “Love Broker” and suggested that he would then help me and all the other single women find a boyfriend that night, I knew that the evening was going to be, let’s say, interesting. (Seriously, how did I survive college?)
Even in seminary I went to some pretty good parties, all based on some underlying reason and purpose. My institute of higher theological learning had its share of parties and dances and social gatherings. And, since fully adopting the adult lifestyle I’ve thrown showers – wedding and baby – for friends, dinner parties, surprise parties, and a number of birthday parties for my own two children. All of these parties came about for a society approved purpose. As I said at the beginning my belief has always been that parties require a reason.
But what do you do when you feel like you’ve run out of reasons? It’s not that the external reasons don’t still exist. They do. There are still birthdays and holidays and life events to be celebrated. Yet at this particular moment in my life I cannot find too much to celebrate. Living lately is difficult. The pockets on the jeans of my existence hold some deep sadness. My heart feels bruised. It would take more emotional energy and strength than I know how to summon to really throw a party right now. The external reasons may still be present, but I can’t seem to find the internal impetus needed for revelry.
Yet I want to. I want to believe that I will once again want to party. Not the hedonistic bacchanal kind of party from my college days, but a time to gather the people I love together and just be glad that we’re with one another.
And I don’t want to spend the last half of my life waiting for reasons to have a party. I want the reasons to be as simple and spontaneous as the fact that I woke up today. I remembered to breathe. I survived. I took five seconds and noticed something beautiful around me. Someone made me laugh. I made someone else laugh. A friend called only to say that I am loved. Someone listened, really listened. My children still look like babies when they sleep. I figured out that joy still runs deeper than heartache. These are the reasons I’m looking for. These are the reasons I want to throw a party. There doesn’t have to be an event, just a sense of joy.
I have a feeling I should stop this list or Oprah is going to show up and tell me to keep a gratitude journal. No offense, Ms. Winfrey, it’s a great idea and all, but I just want to party.