before we get started, a confession: i signed up for gwen bell’s blog challenge for two specific, well-thought-out (maybe fairly well-thought-out is more like it), self-serving reasons:
1. i want and i need to associate with good writers, seriously good writers. writers who will keep me sharp and keep me trying.
2. i don’t know if it’s fear of commitment or what, but i have trouble selecting favorites in my life. oh, i’m reflective enough all right, but in a general, broad-stroke sort of way.

that said, today’s assignment goes like this: December 5 Night out. Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night? and my response goes like this:

best pre-2009 nights that come to mind include the night when, as an undergraduate student, i felt absolutely, undeniably, uncontrollably in love with my life. and the night he scooped me up – broken knee and all – and whisked me away minutes after we said “i will. oh, yes, yes, yes, you know i will.” how could i ever forget the night my daughter was born, and i slept through the night on my stomach for the first time in 12 years or the night 14 months later when my son was born and spent his first night sleeping quietly right beside me as i finished his christmas stocking?

then, after enough consideration to disrupt sleep and cause headaches, i’ve decided that the best 2009 nights include (in no particular order):
the night we supped with our n.c. friends – people we know only by sight – and their longtime friends whom we’d never seen at all. now eating with the people who live next door can be tricky. real tricky. and expensive if things go badly and you wind up having to sell your house or something. anyway, the first potential land mine is the fact that i’m a picky eater of the first order. it’s nothing my mother did or didn’t do, it’s just the way it is and i am. and what if we have multiple forks and i select the wrong one? what if we stay too long? leave too early? what if there’s something i can (read: will) eat, and it sticks to my teeth . . . and what if it’s an APPETIZER? what if i say the wrong thing? what if andy says the wrong thing and i can’t cover?

you get the picture.

at the appointed time, we head out and walk down to their house. it’s a nice night (and, honestly, we forget all about the fact that we’ll be walking uphill on the way home). what unfolded after we crossed their threshold is a night that, well, i’m writing about it here, so you know it was a good night. the food was DELICIOUS – i even asked for a recipe. there was only one spoon, one knife, and one fork at each place. the conversation flowed freely and easily – even when the other two couples talked about things shared, we didn’t feel left out for a single minute.

as we ate and talked and laughed – oh my goodness how we did laugh – the music played, and to my great delight, we would, after the hosts set the example, get up and dance right smack dab in the middle of the meal. this wasn’t dancing after dinner, this was dancing during dinner – and nobody had to ask to be excused. a good song would come on, and somebody would be up dancing before you could say “turn it up.”

another night worth remembering is a recent meal at the house of other friends. again, the food was delicious, the conversation never stalled, and cutlery was blessedly kept to one of each. at one point in the meal, the four of us were watching a football game on television; reading selections from a book by carlos castaneda, and discussing pre-columbian textiles as modern art – all at the same time.

the other 2009 night that comes to mind is this past thanksgiving night when i was settled in with the husband, my two chiclets, my mother, and an assortment of cats and dogs. tummies were full, dishes were clean and stored, and as we sat talking about this ‘n that while looking at the spectacular, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-of-it waterfall, it started snowing. we turned off all the lights inside, turned on all (read: both) the outside lights, and sat mesmerized with the beauty and quietness of it all.

. . . you know for a picky eater who hates cooking, it’s interesting that each one of my favorite nights involves a meal, isn’t it? well, i suppose there’s nourishment then there’s nourishment.


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