• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 11
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Thirty Sixty Ninety

It’s 1959. Charlie calls me “the life of the party” and oh how I love parties! These days, cocktail parties are easy to find. Charlie even hosted one shortly after moving to a bigger apartment. I know he’s planning on proposing and that he rented the new place assuming I’d accept. I’m thinking about saying no. I love Charlie, but I fear the amount I have to give up to be his wife will drain most of the life out of me. I’m single, thirty years old, and living on my own. Messages that I’m abnormal come from almost everywhere: advertisements, movies, television. Mom asks daily, “When are you going to settle down and get married, Margaret?” I’m tiring from the fight of nonconforming and scared of the price for fitting in.

It’s 1989. Charlie’s retired and all three of our children are married and living on their own. My party days are now restricted to holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations of our grandchildren. We moved to a house after the birth of our second child, but have since moved back to the city. Our condo looks very similar to the apartment we first shared. At sixty years old, I stay busy just trying to keep up with new technology. My life before thirty seems cast in shadows. I try to share memories with my children, but they are too busy to listen. When I speak of those days with Charlie, he says I “shouldn’t live in the past” and changes the subject. I’ve begun to think he’s afraid I might find that part of me again. Was he ever really comfortable with me being the life of the party? I stay silent in my wanderings through the past, hoping to retain the significance of who I was and afraid that person is gone for good.


Thirty Sixty Ninety

It’s 2019. Charlie passed away last year, and I feel every minute of my ninety years. I’m in assisted living now. My oldest, Debra, gets annoyed when I call it “considerate spying.” I have a small kitchen, but the staff wants me to use the main dining hall. Party days now include celebrations for several great-grandchildren. I’m single and living, somewhat, on my own again. I feel a small spark inside of me. A remnant of the past. A feeling that is undeniable and growing stronger. I know how to order things on the internet. Cocktail glasses and a shaker are being delivered. After some cajoling, my second grandson agreed to help bring in the liquor. He called me “mischievous” and I grinned from ear to ear. The invitation list includes men and women I met in the dining hall. People who have wandered through similar pasts. They’re excited and I’m almost buzzing. One more opportunity for me to be the life of the party, one more time to be who I really am.