Saturday, August 13, 2011

the way things were

Yesterday morning a friend asked (through a words with friends message), if we wanted to have dinner last night. I had another dinner plan pending and, as it was such a stunning day, asked both families if they wanted to have dinner upstairs instead of going out - our building has a spacious roof deck on the 17th floor with panoramic views of NYC, everything from the Empire State Building to the Hudson River to the new Freedom Tower that's now taller than everything else in its vicinity. Sunsets are stunning.

Coffee plans with someone else fell through and when I mentioned perhaps roof dinner, she excitedly said yes and asked if she could bring a friend. That brought the total to 12. And later, when talking to my brother, or perhaps we were texting, I discovered he was still in the city - would he like to join us? That yes brought the total to 14.

14 people for an impromptu dinner party.

That used to be matter-of-fact. Most summers we had people over on a regular basis, always super casual, generally last minute, but the gift that is dinner in the open air at sunset is one that needs to be shared. This year though, I haven't been up to it. Up to the planning, the organizing, the preparing, the chatting, the entertaining, and the massive clean up. Even the inviting has escaped me for the past couple of months. I've been wary of making plans, worried the exhaustion would hit and I wouldn't be able to handle or cope with pieces I'd put in place.

Yesterday though, something was different. There was no second-guessing or doubts flirting at the edges. I emailed Jon to let him know what was happening and he asked who'd be doing all the work (he's the big set-up person). I realized I couldn't leave it all to him, so we kicked it up into high gear.

The kids and I cleaned the apartment. Washed both dogs (this wasn't necessary for dinner, but it needed to be done). I went to a kick ass yoga class, headed up to Trader Joe's on the way home, and trudged back 10 blocks, a heavy bag slung over my already sore shoulder. Then a trip to the supermarket to pick up enough watermelon for slushies.

I roasted potatoes in olive oil and sea salt. Put together a mozzarella and grape tomato salad. Sliced watermelon, cantalope, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Pureed more watermelon than you could imagine. Found plates, utensils, glasses, serving bowls, trays.

Someone brought delicious cold sesame noodles. Another backed an incredible summer fruit pie.

As the sky moved through pink, orange, and purple into cobalt blue, a luminous moon rising over the east side, we ate. And talked. Caught up. Hung out. We lit candles and sang happy birthday to the many people at the table who'd celebrated a birthday in the past few months. The kids went in search of helium balloons and entertained us with squeaky voices in the dark.

Then we wandered downstairs, piles (and piles and piles) of dirty dishes in hand. The puppies were delighted to have so much attention. And so people stayed. The last guests left after 11.

I made it through the entire day and night as myself. No walls of exhaustion. No necessary naps. No anxiety rushing in to take over.

It was a good, good night.

I am so grateful for the friends I have. For my amazing my family, who can pull remarkable things together.

And for watermelon, without whom the night wouldn't have been what it was.


  1. It was a magical night. I agree. A long overdue roof dinner at Elissa and Jon's that led to a full blown party. Four kids who have grown up on those sunset dinners ... every summer a little taller, now teens towering over us (some of us), suddenly back to silly little kids with helium voices. Lured in to believing we were eating healthy with Trader Joe's snacks ... and drinking healthy with watermelon puree & vodka! A summer tradition I hope to repeat many, many times in years to come.

  2. That sounds like an absolutely lovely evening!