Terrible Twos

Winesday turned two this past week.  Given my abject fear of commitment, and my inherent ability to screw up intimate relationships, this was no small feat.

The origin of Winesday is a pretty ordinary tale — Miss Mal, Kate and I had been training to volunteer in an urban Emergency Department, and the intense meetings had been weekend + Mon/Weds affairs through the first part of the winter of 2010.  When the trainings were wrapping up, we missed seeing each other on a regular basis.  So we planned a “wine & carb Wednesday,” and that night (and many drinks later), Winesday was born.

After two years, Winesday is still going strong.

Winesday is a lot of things: group therapy; consciousness-raising; theme party; scheme party.  (Some fave themes have been:  Chilean Minesday; Winesgiving; Sinko de Winesday (annual); La Fete Nationale Winesday (et la deuxieme Fete Nationale Winesday); Boxed Winesday; etc.)  It’s a place where people come for support, or to bounce ideas off a handful of lunatics.  It’s where the members come to laugh and cry.

I have a round table, and reasonable furniture, and an unreasonable number of serving pieces.  This all seems to set the stage for comfortable family gatherings.

When my parents moved to California, it was a bit like becoming ex pats.  We had no family there, and we had to make our own.  This occasionally infuriated me, because sometimes, it seemed that my parents forgot we had a perfectly good family just a plane ride away.  I didn’t understand, then, what it meant to settle down, and how we choose the places we are from; how we find homes where we settle.  Maybe I was too young, or maybe the west coast simply didn’t agree with me the way it agreed with my father who’d brought us there.

But now, I look around the Upper East Side, and I look at the faces gathered around my table, and I think I am starting to understand a bit better.  After all, I have chosen to be from New  York.  Or, in some ways, a woman without a country; a native daughter of nowhere, when I could just as easily say I’m from wherever my parents call home.  If any of that makes sense.

But one way I define where I am from is hereNew York.  The Upper East Side.  Wednesday nights; round table; sauvignon blanc in summer, pretty much anything red in winter; those Carr’s whole wheat crackers; Winesday.

I cannot say that Winesday has been easy.  There have been some issues that have come up that made me question whether I could go on even looking at these clowns — let alone bringing them into my home week by week; sharing my life and heart and house with them.  But what you learn in love and in war — and by that I mean, in the schoolyard and in the sorority — is that there are things that are worth keeping and that are worth fighting for.  You know what’s good when you’ve got it.  And you hang on to it if you’ve got any sense, even if there are horrible moments along the holding on.

In other words, don’t give up.

So what began as a way to keep up the momentum of nascent friendships, and what started in my somewhat barren; just-separated-from-my-husband; just-back-in-New-York-full-time apartment in the days when I had much less than I once had has grown into something much more than I ever imagined. Over the years there have been late nights; painful dawns.  There have been dance parties in my foyer.  There have been tears.  There has been vomit in my kitchen sink.

There have been birthday parties, and silly hats.  Holidays, and big announcements.  Good news and bad.  But we’ve survived it together.  Primarily by way of silly hats…

Sometimes you are born into a family.  Sometimes you choose a family.  Other times, one chooses you.

In the years to come, we may all stay in New York, or some of us may leave.  The group may change in size and form.  The beauty of family is that it’s not static, but always changing shape; always morphing, always subtly adapting to circumstance in order to survive.

Two years in, I am lucky to choose, and to have been chosen.  And the experience of this family has forever changed me for the better.

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