Last Night of the World

In her seventh ever blog post, all the way back in March 2003(!), the inimitable Andrea Scher wrote: “Maybe lists are like prayers.” What sorts of lists do you have on the go at the moment? What do they suggest you are praying for?

I have lists everywhere.

Half-completed lists; half-written in American English; half-written in the Queen’s English; Half the items half crossed off. I travel so much and am married to a European and that is why I cannot get anything done and why I inconsistently insert a random letter “u” in words and occasionally replace my “z”s with “s”s.

I have personal lists; professional lists; household lists; holiday lists. I have lists dating back twenty years that are stuck inside old journals. I have playlists, and task lists, and outlines for conversations that were never had, and indices for arguments left unspoken.

The other night, I came across a grocery list tucked into a cookbook I had long forgotten. It was meant for a party I had hosted back in 2008. I used to host an ugly sweater Christmas party every year, and I did this for almost ten years until I moved house last year, and everyone got divorced, or got sober, or had kids. Those weird little parties I used to host simply weren’t as fun as they used to be once everyone spawned, and started Crossfit, found a Higher Power.

The party in 2008, though, was remarkable. I had come back from one overseas adventure and was soon off to another. My first marriage was in shambles – we were at that stage where we couldn’t have people over or socialise unless it was in a big group. Maybe you’ve seen this behaviour in the wild when you’ve observed sniping friends whose relationship has run its natural course, or attempted to diffuse divorcing spouses interacting in an enclosed space.

Everything in our house, by that stage, had escalated to a clattering rumble but had not yet fallen apart, as if the 6 Train were passing under our feet at all times. Rocking, rumbling, screaming into the din. Still…intact.  Otherwise, falling apart – it was 2008, the world was ending! – but the party had to go on.

My grocery list for that night included, inter alia:

Eggs
Puff pastry
Brie (round)
Flaked coconut
Vanilla frosting
Canned pears
Rum
Red wine
Makers Mark (?)
Sugar
Cigarettes
Popsicles
Ice
Tictacs

What was I even creating out of all that? I can make sense of most of the ingredients, but I get lost around cigarettes, popsicles, and tic tacs.

I look back through the photos of that night, and I marvel at who showed up; who was in the same room for one night only. It is completely incomprehensible to me now to see all these people together because they could only have existed on the same plane if it were The Last Night of The World.

We fit more than 50 people into our one-bedroom, Tribeca apartment. We were drinking, and dancing, and kissing under the mistletoe, and I was wearing shiny gold leggings that people commented on for years afterward. People were laughing and eating, and greeting each other like old friends, when half of them barely knew each other and were only connected through me.

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It was also the night of the first snowfall, which I realised when I stuck my head out the window at one point, and the flakes stuck to my halo of blonde curls. It was perfect, and beautiful, and if the world was never going to be the same ever again, that was exactly how I wanted Christmas to end: With everyone I knew from every moment of my life together in the same room; drunk on the mulled wine I whipped up each year and always made so sweet that everyone forgot it was filled not only with spices, but also, bourbon; and the first snow of winter falling in the background.

The party went until sunrise. The marriage lasted only a few months more. Most of the friends present have now moved away.

It was funny: I knew in my heart, the morning I made that grocery list, that it was The End. That the party was over before it had begun. I knew that the days of wacky excess and wildness were all at an end. I could’ve done the meek and mild thing when my ex and I began rowing over the groceries in the morning – I could’ve cancelled the party. I could’ve torn up the list; spent the evening in my sweats; accepted what was obviously fate.

There’s something so funny about struggling against fate, isn’t there? There was something so gorgeous, and pathetic, and wonderfully divine about successfully hosting a last party together as husband and wife. There is something sweet, and sad, and prayerful about my mediation on eggs, and puff pastry seven years later, knowing that the world ended, and that I survived.

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