ditching the dinner party fantasy

Long, long ago when I got married for the first time, I did what all traditionally-minded brides do and registered for all matter of kitchen and home artifacts. Gun in hand, I got trigger-happy, pointing and clicking at sleek stainless steel utensils (oh, the savory crepes I would skillfully flip and the bec

hamels I would whisk!); professional bar accessories (oh, the sophisticated Manhattans and dirty martinis that I would shake and stir!); funky wine glasses and decanters (oh, the earthy Pinotages and minerally Loires I would theatrically cork and pour!); and beautifully understated yet sturdy Mikasa stoneware place-settings and silverware and crystal stemware (oh, the dinner parties I would host!).

Of course, you probably know how this one ends: I got the cookware and barware and gorgeous place settings. I did not, however, have more than a handful of dinner parties in the following decade. All that expensive ceramic and crystal and glass and stainless steel were still, ten years later, sitting in their original packaging. They had been dragged from flat to flat to flat, across multiple state lines, in cars and moving trucks, and stored in basements and storage units. All this effort because of that one day that would most certainly being arriving this year (along with a raise and a nicer flat and balcony furniture that was not green plastic) when six chic guests would make smart small talk around my candlelit living room, Grey Goose cocktails in hand, before slipping into their Mission-style chairs around my Mission-style dining table for homemade Spanish tapas.

It’s amazing what lengths some of us will go to for that one day in the future when we don’t wake up with that “what’s-wrong-with-my-life” feeling because we are finally popular enough/skinny enough/paid enough/loved enough—good enough—to live that perfect life that has been ticker-taping through our imaginations ever since we were asked to write an essay on “Where I will be in 10 years” in high school. For me, that meant I would be one of those fabulous urban career girls…. and of course, throwing spectacular dinner parties in my Apartment-Therapied downtown flat. And I had all the accoutrements—I just needed the life to match.

So I waited. I waited for the time when my life would be reflected in these perfect 8-piece place settings. I waited for the point when my body was thin and toned enough to wear the lacy Victoria Secret confections that languished in my underwear drawer. I waited to wear the sleek black power suit I loved until I had the title to match. Strappy gold designer sandals waited in a box in the closet for the perfect date; a Kate Spade clutch remained stuffed with the original tissue paper, waiting for the perfect event; Dior perfume waited on a bathroom shelf for a special occasion. And during all this waiting, addresses and partners and jobs and lovers and vacations and pets came and went. And not one of them was “perfect” or “special” enough for these things that had become harbingers of a fantasy-life-come-true.

While I ostensibly knew all this was ridiculous, the lure of someday was too seductive, too addictive, to give up. Someday would come. Someday had to come. It just had to.

It’s only been in the last year that I have met reality: this day was not coming. Ever. Like the ex-lover who broke up with you from whom you spend months waiting for that text that will make the sun shine again, someday would not be making an appearance. Time to move on.

Breaking up with the someday fantasy has not been easy and requires daily affirmations to the tune of “Today is worth X, you are worth X [insert ‘eating off the good plates’ or ‘wearing the lacy underwear’ or ‘bathing with that handmade spa soap’ or simply ‘eating those ghastly expensive blueberries’).” And when I still hesitate, I remind myself that using it now–even if I break it or stain it or use it all up–is better than what typically happens when I don’t–it gathers dust, it no longer fits, it expires, it starts growing fur, etc.

When I do get over this fear and use/wear/eat the special-someday object, I’ve noticed a funny phenomenon–the object loses its ‘special’ status. I stop fearing it because the worst doesn’t happen (e.g., I don’t break it, I don’t stain it, if I use it up I don’t miss it).  The ‘too-special-for-everyday’ object becomes part of the everyday, which makes me feel special and adds a little extraordinary touch to the day. That elusive ‘special-someday’ becomes that ‘special-somebody’ worthy of a bit of ‘specialness’.

So let’s all brave the deep black depths of our closets and cupboards and let the cashmere and crystal and heavenly bubble bath see the light of day again–because that, my friends, is the beginning of something special.





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