A New Year’s Eve Party Refusal
You have an invitation, I see as I open email.
It is Christmas afternoon. Presents have been revealed, grandkids are playing, and I am free to stop smiling like all is well. All is not well and hasn’t been since the election and I wonder if it ever will be.
I am not a pessimist. I am a realist. And the future is grim. Christmas does not change that.
I click open the email invite. C & E have invited you to a New Year’s Eve Party, it begins.
C is co-owner of a feminist bookstore in our town. Prior to helping raise grandchildren, I used to volunteer there and was on the Board of Directors. E is her partner, an immigrant and a professor. They are a liberal, lesbian couple. People I love. People who are part of my tribe.
I sigh deeply as I read the details of the invitation. C & E usually have a night-before-Thanksgiving dinner party, but traveling prevented it this year. This New Year’s Eve party is a replacement event.
Time, place, menu, etc. Any other year, I would be excited about a NYE party with these two charming hosts and other members of my liberal tribe, but this year the words I am reading only make me sad — and anxious.
I know my husband, always ready for a party, will want to go. But, I can’t. I just can’t. He has been patient with my withdrawal from all social activities not involving immediately family, but he misses our once-active social life. I consider the party.
People I love, admire and respect will be there, but, like me, they are still licking their wounds from the election, still reeling from the results, still fearing the future. I can imagine the conversation will revolve around our country’s political situation. I can imagine there will be dire predictions of the future. I will agree with every word. Everyone’s shock, dismay, disgust, and feelings of impending doom will be displayed and discussed. I cannot take that. I may need the embrace of my like-minded friends, but I cannot take the words that will be spoken. They are the words in my head, the words I sometimes write, but I cannot hear them spoken. I can’t.
Suddenly, I have an image of my cat Tango who spends endless hours snuggled in the dark, warm safety under the bedcovers on my bed. I want to be him. Every day I want to be him, hidden away warm and safe. But, every day I have to go out in the dangerous world, far away from any place that is warm and safe. I have to act like the world is the same, we are the same. I have to do the work, speak the language, play the game as though nothing has changed when everything has changed.
I click the refusal button and give my regards, eloquently explaining the emotional reasons of self-preservation I have for declining. I click send.
I have another party to attend on New Year’s Eve — with my cat — under the dark, warm, safe bedcovers of my bed. Just the two of us. For one night, when fireworks are exploding and people are toasting an unsure and scary future, he and I will be under the bedcovers, warm and safe. For one night.