Last night was a my girlfriend Persephone’s birthday (okay – it’s not her real name, but I’ve always liked unsual names that sound like Greek goddesses or something, so I figured I’d lob that one onto my friend, in the interest of anonymity and all. Heck, I wouldn’t mind being given the alias of Persephone. Then again I wouldn’t mind being a Greek goddess, or any other type of goddess for that matter. At least for a day… but I digress).
Anyhow, the big “P” planned a casual gathering of dinner and drinks with a few of her girlfriends. I was the first to arrive at the utterly hip and cool restaurant, hand-picked by the birthday girl. We were in for an added bonus because she works there most other nights, thus initiating the unwritten code between on-duty bartenders, and off-duty workers of drink “hook-ups.”
I ‘m not one to choose where to eat based on the drink “hook up,” but can certainly see its merits among stuggling college age kids and what-not. Don’t get me wrong… I’m all about enjoying a good cocktail, on-the-house or otherwise.
So, I walked into the bar, and noticed the familiar face of Scotty, the bartender on duty in my friend’s absence. I told Scotty I was there for P’s birthday, and promptly ordered a soda and lime juice. It is my drink of choice lately, to help me succeed in my new health blitz. I’d been successfully dieting, exercising to shed the excess pounds from the last two years of debauched eating and drinking, so I was NOT going to throw it all away in one evening.
Now, onto the reason for this blasted post! The rest of the girls arrived soon enough. Everyone was dressed up in their cutest parading outfits (myself included – at least the cutest thing my boyfriend felt good about), and we soon were seated at our table in the dining room.
The ambiance was perfect – a very chic restaurant, with some of Aspen’s own Who’s-Who in attendance – and our own Ladies of the Roundtable all in waiting. Well, waiting for drinks and appetizers anyway. I made small talk with the girls I didn’t know to my right, as everyone else that I knew was either sitting a mile across the table from me, or was seated on my left getting tanked.
It became increasingly difficult to make small talk, at least with any success. As the evening progressed, the music in our little bistro got louder and louder. I have a hearing problem. It’s true. Not a bad one. I just can’t hear background sounds very well. It’s something they think I was born with, but I have a hard enough time deciphering bacground sounds in the grocery store, let alone in an obnoxiously loud restaurant (which is what our little Camelot had turned into). I smiled and pretended to understand what my new best friend Karina was saying, three seats over from me. I had to pretend. I’d already said “EH?” and “What’s that?” far too many times to be civil, or at least not appear to be an eighty year old with extremely good cosmetic surgery.
That’s when it happened. Persephone and I caught each others glance, and she hollered across the table, “Are you doing okay? How are you holding up?”
I said half-laughing, “Great!” But I couldn’t help but wonder why she’d singled ME out. So, when she repeated it about twenty minutes later I said, “Why? Do I look tired?” and she replied, “No more than me, sister!” I quickly countered, “I’m just looking OLD! That’s it, isn’t it?!” Of course then, Heather who was sitting next to P said, “Don’t you worry about it LJ! I’m definitely the oldest one here! I’m 34!” My mouth must have dropped to the table, as my mind raced, ‘Am I flattered, or insulted?’ From Heather I was flattered, I suppose, as she apparently had NO idea of my true age. But very quickly I realized that my friend P had heard this (and anyone else?), and she DID know my age. I had to fess up. I said, “No, Heather. Sorry. I win. I’m 42…” I think I expected her jaw to drop to the floor as she exclaimed with a shriek how there was no WAY on earth I could POSSIBLY be 42. It never happened. I think she’d had a few drinks by this time, and probably forgot we were even talking, as she mumbled something about her cool nail polish to another girl next to her.
As the smoke screen cleared, and I was fully exposed, I was forced to take a little inventory of the real situation:
1) I was trying to have a meaningful conversation with some girls who I hardly knew, and were probably still in their 20’s. One had just come off the road working for rock and roll bands like Aerosmith. She was wide-eyed and curious about me and what it was like to work for myself. She said she’d love to do that some day, but felt very comfortable in her “profession.” That should have have been my first clue, or at least tipped it off for me.
2) I was struggling to hear! Not to understand.. though that had its challenges as well. Do you hear me? I couldn’t friggin’ HEAR what people were saying, when apparently everyone else could hear just fine. Even though I couldn’t hear, I could definitely observe that this too was a MAJOR clue.
3) Everyone assumed their expected roles. Birthday girl gets to drink and gets her way, no matter what (that never changes, and it shouldn’t). Everyone else is there for the birthday girl, but most use the occasion to eat drink and be merry, and eventually make utter babbling fools of themselves (hey, I’ve been guilty of that… check out my Alcohol with Altitude post…). But that was my third clue.
4) My own friend P was truly concerned about me, because obviously I was the OLD LADY of the bunch, and I might not hold up okay. THAT WAS IT!
I came to some important conclusions then:
1) I am not old, I am just wise! And I think I have some semblance of intelligence (I may also be delusional, but happy nonetheless). I have been lucky to live and experience some of the most enviable things in my life. For some reason my younger friends translate that as smart and successful. I love my life, and I thrive on inspiring, intelligent conversation, and I see my time and engergy as extremely valuable – as my “free” time is so scant these days.
2) I do not usually go out for the purpose of getting drunk anymore. I admit – it definitely happens that a few drinks take their toll on me from time to time – but I stopped going out to “party” when I was in my early twenties, with the exception of a brief stint between 36 and 40 when I was freshly divorced, on the prowl, and before I met the man I love and live with.
3) I HAVE my career and I am happy in it. I am exceptional at what I do. That’s why I make a good living at it, and I have crafted it to suit me and the lifestyle I have chosen.
4) I like to surround myself with people who are happy, successful (in more ways than just financially) and those who are always growing, learning and expanding.
The bottom line? I am just in a different space these days than most of the girls at my friend’s party. I was so glad to be there to honor my friend, and I do not really KNOW her other friends to conclude whether they are intelligent or “with it.” I just found that I didn’t have the drive of years ago to find out. That was the difference between me and some of the girls that night. I laughed and I had a nice time, but in the end, I am not a young girl anymore. I am not really searching for love, career, success or contentment, as they continue in their search. Oh, I will always strive to achieve more of my life’s goals, but for the most part, I am happy. And above all, I do not limit myself.
The gal who was sitting on my right epitomized our differences. At one point in our conversation about career, she said in a knowing voice to the younger, more impressionable girls, “Well, we all make sacrifices to live here. It’s just a fact of life.”
I wanted to shout out, “We do not!” I live in Aspen because I CHOOSE to. If Aspen were to stop fulfilling me or required that I make great sacrifice to stay here (without real merit), I would move on. Anything is possible! I choose to live without placing limits on myself with every breath.
I don’t say these things to shun or diss my girlfriends. I love P and her roommate, as well as my other best friend who got tanked that night… I like to go out and get a little crazy, and be carefree as well. I’ve just been in the company of people lately who have raised the bar for me. They are people I admire, and see as movers and shakers in our world. The kind you feel lucky to know, and you can learn from as well as offer input into their lives on a daily basis.
It’s just that the truth of our lives – how we choose to live right now – is what separates the women from the girls…. and lately it seems as though there is a GREAT DIVIDE!