When the Going Gets Tough…

Yes, the tough get going–but in my case, the tough also have a big party.

My fortieth birthday came barely a month after the fire that destroyed my house and my neighborhood. My husband had planned a big party for me (not a surprise party–we’d already had enough surprises), and people managed to track him down where we were staying to ask if the party was still on. His reply?
As a certain long-haired pitcher on the local nine would say, “F*ck yeah!”
Earlier in the year, with a trip to Hawaii pending, my husband and I had launched into a weight-loss program. This program involved dissolving a powdered product into milk or juice, tarting it up with fruit, and sucking it down for two meals a day. We gurgled our way through it, fantasizing about food every waking moment. But it had the desired effect and we were looking pretty svelte as we approached our vacation date. I was even confident enough to try on and finally buy a two-piece for the first time since my twenties. (I’d post that picture again, but once is probably enough. It had polka dots. Sigh.)
So, I would’ve needed something to wear to my party anyway–but after the fire, I had to start from scratch with clothes, shoes, etc. It was a good excuse to go shopping, but I can’t remember a time when I felt less festive about buying clothes. I’d managed to accumulate some lovely dresses and killer shoes over the years, but you can’t just go out and re-create a closet full of carefully chosen items that took a lifetime to gather.

Party dress shopping, though, was a real morale booster. I tried on some fancy Bob Mackie-esque dresses, and because of my newly reduced circumstances, went a little crazy. I ended up with something that was covered with clusters of large black sequins that went over a little black dress. The sequined part swirled when I twirled in front of the mirror–and twirling was essential since there would be dancing at my party. I bought some black patent leather heels to go with it, and was ready to begin my forties with a little glitz. Hey, why not?

It’s a miracle the smoke alarm didn’t go off

Several of the moms: we clean up good!
With Dad and Mom

Friends and family came out on a rainy night to celebrate my birthday and help us begin the process of finding some semblance of the normal in our lives.

A nice moment with Peggy, one of the  Moms

When I look at the pictures from that party now, I’m touched by how many people came and danced and hugged us and got the first part of the next chapter of our lives off to a rollicking start.

While looking at these pictures brings back some of the joy of that evening, it’s a sad fact that after twenty years, many who were close to us are no longer here. My deepest thanks go to all the friends and family who stood by us in those terrible days after the fire and helped us realize how lucky we were to have their support.

You are missed: Marilyn and John, Sam and Betty, Nikko, Steve, Joe, Carol, and Lisa.
Thanks for being there when it mattered most.

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