It’s a party

I love parties. I especially love parties full of people I know, at least a little bit. And I love them most of all when they’re in my house or in my good friends’ houses. What’s better than hanging out with friends for an evening, eating, drinking, listening to music, and talking about anything from the weather to complicated questions of theology to where we’re going to go on our next roadtrip?* Still…I pulled up outside my house on Sunday night after yet another party with many good friends, and this uneasy thought flickered through my head: What will happen to the parties once all my friends–and possibly even I–get married?

Pre-marriage, everyone says they’ll still be around. “You’ll see us…it’s not like we’re dying or anything,” they say with a laugh when you start to sniffle at their impending jump from singleness into matrimony. But post-marriage? It’s only a matter of time…sometimes a few months, sometimes a year…before they start turning down most invitations. Family commitments, they say. Lots of work. Need a quiet night in. Then pregnancy. Then babies. If they live close enough by you might bump into them now and then at baptisms and babies’ first birthday parties, but in general marriage seems to be the end of parties. At least for the young adults. I suspect they start back up again when you’re married 10 years with kids–potluck dinners and backyard barbecues certainly happened a lot in my family, and I intend to keep that tradition going until I’m too senile to remember who my own kids are. (And even then, really, what’s to stop me?)

This isn’t meant in any way as a slam on marriage or the married folks I know. Really, it’s just a bit of scrutiny of my own values. Maybe parties of the good old “hanging out and chatting” variety lose their appeal after marriage because, quite simply, you’re not “looking” anymore. Not that I go to parties specifically with that intention, mind you, but if the potential isn’t lingering around in your subconscious…why not just organize the occasional girls’ night in and save yourself the headache? I hadn’t really thought of that before. Maybe along with the settling of the old restless heart comes a certain level of satisfaction with fewer–but deeper–relationships.

In any event. Until that blessed day arrives–or until all my single friends get married and stop coming–I’m going to keep right on enjoying my weekend parties. There’s really no better way to get ready for Monday.

*Which leads to the all-important question, guys: where are we going to go on our next roadtrip?

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7 thoughts on “It’s a party

  1. Funny that you should post on this… I’ve always been struck by the difference in parties between my friends in the D.C. area and my friends in the Milwaukee area. By in large, the values of these two friend groups of mine, what they enjoy, what they dream about, and who they enjoy hanging around with, are the same. But the demographic of the parties…totally different. As you note, the vast majority of the D.C. social scene seems to be dominated by singles. But this is not necessarily true everywhere.

    I was blessed to spend the first 8 years of my adulthood in a very diverse social scene, at least, demographically. Most parties I went to were a mix of single and married people, and yes, even those married people with kids. So much so that when I bought a house in Milwaukee three years before I left for D.C., I had two separate people give me baby items, a pack ‘n’ play and a child booster seat for the table. These items were given not because I had any impending marriage or children, but because nearly every other social event I hosted included either someone putting a child to bed upstairs or someone feeding a child at the dinner table.

    I attribute this difference in demographic to two things: 1) Milwaukee’s Catholic culture is not as big and varied as D.C.’s. All Catholic young adults, no matter what their state in life, pretty much hang around together because there simply aren’t a whole lot of them (at least, relative to D.C.), and 2) there simply aren’t as many things to do in Milwaukee and the lower cost of living frequently results in bigger living spaces, and, as a result, more parties hosted at people’s homes.

    The side benefit, I think, of parties hosted in people’s homes, is the ability of those married folk with children to attend. It’s a lot easier for folks to put a sleepy 6 month old to bed upstairs and continue to enjoy the party than it is to try and keep them from fussing in a bar or restaurant. By the time I left Milwaukee, over 25% of my friend group had kids, yet I still saw them at parties, often. I am thankful for the knowledge they imparted on me about marriage and raising children, through our conversations at those gatherings.

    Based on this, I’d argue that it is still possible not to fall off the social scene once married, and yes, even with children. Those intimate gatherings in peoples homes are probably some of the best ways to include in even those who have been blessed with little ones. While it’s true that these diverse gathering aren’t the norm here in D.C., it’s a little piece of Milwaukee I’d like to try to foster here in D.C.

  2. Interesting comment Janet… the city setting itself may change the dynamic. I know you mentioned values are the same of your friends in DC and Milwaukee regardless of married or not- so why do you think married people (perhaps you see it from a different perspective) don’t attend parties as frequently in this area?

    I am wondering if location plays a factor… people live relatively “far” from each other here, that possibly transporting children around could be a little more taxing?

    MB- we need to find a good child booster seat on craigslist!!

  3. Janet, thanks for sharing! Please, foster. I’m totally in…because I do think the sharp separation between married and singles around here is bad all around. Granted, we are in different places in life, but we can still learn from one another and help one another out…I would think.

    Good point, Casey, on people being farther apart.

    And yes. Booster seat: done.

    • No, no! Not scolded, silly. You also live halfway across the universe, which makes things tough married or single. 😉 And you’re very sweet to keep inviting me to YOUR parties, where I get to hang out with not just some of my favorite adults, but my favorite little people as well.

  4. Janet and I have hosted a few get togethers. Some have been wildly successful, and some not so much. One thing that explains some of the difference between married folks attending parties in Milwaukee much more often is this:

    In DC, you must plan a get together/party a month ahead of time because most people, whether single or married, are just too ‘busy’ to come to something last minute. (this is a very sad state of affairs in my opinion) So, married folks, who often CAN’T plan things out that far (especially marriages with young children) don’t feel think can RSVP. If a married couple does try and plan a small party with short notice (maybe a weekend evening just freed up from commitments), no one is able to come (cause they’ve planned their weekend last month). I know I’ve had that experience.

    Lastly, I’d just like to encourage all your readers to CALL people on the telephone. Look through you address book and just call a friend tonight and ask them what they are up to. Maybe even, gasp, invite them out for a cup of coffee or a beer. Surely you can give up that television show you were ‘planning’ on watching tonight. Or, maybe you’ll have to put off for one more evening that chore that you are ‘going to do tonight.’ Like it ever gets done anyway…

    Make the effort to reach out, I know many single guys do this regularly when we walk out to the end of a plant to ask a girl on a date. I don’t know many of us who risk getting the “I can’t I have other plans” answer. Why, because we never take the infintesimal risk of calling someone to ask them to spend just 1 hour with us…

    Lastly, please, married people, come to parties. I know you get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend, but sometimes the #2 and #3 friends feel quite put out (as evidenced by this post). Keep up the good work MB!

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