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When In Doubt, Do – A Tale
January 27, 2020
My 51st birthday was yesterday. It was a great weekend spent with friends and my husband and bikes and beer and Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake. I spent all day yesterday wanting to pen a tale reflecting back on the first half of my life and another memorable birthday from childhood, but the one that kept coming to my mind over and over was the one I just had a year ago – my 50th.
I started thinking about and planning my 50th birthday a full year before the actual date. I knew I either wanted to have a party or to take a grand trip. Throughout the first half of the year my thoughts on it vacillated back and forth. Whatever was decided, my husband was informed he wasn’t to plan anything, I wanted to make the decisions – his job was to pay for it. He was totally okay with that since I’m usually “Julie the cruise director” on such things anyway.
The initial idea was a dance party where I would “perform” or lip-sync several numbers throughout the night. This may sound insane to you, but I’ve been known to break out a badass lip-sync to “Devil Went Down to Georgia” at parties through the years. So, while running usually and listening to my playlists, I started coming up with songs that I could envision myself lip-syncing to with the help of friends as backup singers or dancers. There was Turner’s “Proud Mary” and Digital Underground’s “Humpty Dance” and Prince’s “Gett Off” and INXS’s “What You Need”. The exact playlist was constantly changing. This lip-sync dance party was golden in my mind. I mentioned it to a friend on a run in March and she laughed at me. Then I told my sister who looked at me like I had totally lost it. Their reactions were a reality bite that made me realize that even if I was ready for this kind of party, maybe my friends and family were not.
The thought of a trip was very exciting as well. Where would we go? Europe? The Grand Canyon? Hawaii? I went on tour websites and read up and got lots of options and pricing. We have never been to Europe so a trip there seemed like the most exotic thing to do. But where in Europe? I talked to people and got ideas and insights and researched. I loved the idea of Italy and Greece and Egypt, but the most overwhelming response I got was to go to France for our first trip abroad. We’ve always wanted to go to France in the summer to see the end of the Tour de France, but as I was now getting ready to turn 50, I didn’t care if it WAS a trip to France in January. The thought of Paris and maybe a trip to the French countryside sounded so amazing…
In the end, the goal was to mark my important date with an important event, celebration or excursion; something to remember it by and be able to look back on and have fond, fond memories that I was indeed living life to the fullest.
The days flew, summer and then fall set in and no decisions had been made. Financially we just couldn’t swing a European get away, so that was sadly removed from the table. A lip-sync dance party still sounded like a lot of fun, but the novelty was fading. At one point in December I gave up. I thought maybe we’d just spend a quiet day going to the movies and to dinner. This “woe is me” lasted for about a week and then I got mad at the girl in charge. I wanted a party dammit.
I decided three weeks out to throw myself the best damn dance party possible. A party handbill was created and sent it out over Facebook Group to 50+ of my closest friends. I bought disco balls, put together a music video playlist for the big screen of all my favorite dance tunes from the 80s, moved all the furniture and turned my basement into a club atmosphere. Upstairs we had huge amounts of food and alcohol. I didn’t know who would show up and didn’t care. I just knew I was wearing my party shirt and my party shoes. It was going to be a good time no matter what.
If I had to write a review, it would have been glowing. Let’s just say that it was one of the best nights of my life. So many people were there. So many toasts and cheers and SO much dancing. When the cops showed up, I knew I had done it right. It was the true sign of a great party.
What if I had listened to that voice that reasoned to just spend a quiet day at the movies when it obviously wasn’t what I wanted? I would be living the rest of my life regretting not getting up off my sad-sack ass to gather my friends together. All of the people that showed up reminded me of the connections we have in life and that I mean something to all of them. More than anything that was the greatest gift I got that night. Sometimes we have to be reminded a la It’s a Wonderful Life that we matter to people. Honestly, this 50th birthday party of mine is what makes me go forward letting people know how much they mean to me in return.
So the lesson is: When in doubt, do – at least in this type of case. Love yourself. Scream it from the roof and listen as your friends echo the same back to you.