Friday, April 29, 2011

Going Away Party

I moved away from my North Carolina home at the end of 2009. I left for the west, bound for my own love story in British Columbia with a man I thought was “the one.”

The fact that my friends threw me a romance-themed party didn’t seem as fitting at the time as it does now. After all, I was leaving in pursuit of love and romance.

At the time, it just seemed funny and topical. I had just given away hundreds of romance novels, but the gift did not stick. It came back to me so that I was forced to give them away again. The gist of the party was (per my friends who planned it) not only to see me off but also to give attendees romance novels as party favors.

The Saga of the Romance Novels

After my mom passed away, the cleaning began. I took on the sorting, the organizing and the purging. If not because I felt the most capable of my family members (and I am) but for fear that anyone else might be careless and discard something I valued. If any item seemed less than important to me but might have meaning to someone else it was my plan to vet the discard through the family committee before chucking it.

When I unearthed boxes and boxes and boxes of romance novels, I knew no one would miss them. They went first, and without me asking a soul.

I loaded them in my trunk and delivered them to the person I knew had a secret passion for romance novels; it was a “habit” she picked up courtesy of time spent on the middle school swim team. She received them with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning – opening boxes, giggling at the cover art, and browsing back covers. Despite talking smack about the content and the themes (Scottish Highland settings, the young bride, paranormal, and Westerns) the tremor in her voice exposed her elation with the gift. And, I felt proud. There’s nothing better than giving someone something they love, and she clearly loves romance novels.

Her girlfriend was less than pleased with the gift. And this I understand. Because when your loved one slips into a trance – an open-eyed comma where she appears alive to the world but can not be pulled into the moment of here-and-now – you begin to hate that thing that drives the distraction. You hate that book. You hate the fantasy your loved one is living. You hate being second-class to fictional characters. And so, Megan made Elizabeth return the books to me.

It was the best possible scenario. Megan got her girlfriend back. Elizabeth didn’t have to witness the books being “disposed of” unceremoniously at Goodwill before she finished with them, and they reasoned that I now had “party favors” to give my other friends who came to my going away party which was now dubbed a romantic affair.

They made an invitation to the party, complete with picture of a shirtless man with He-Man upper-body strength in an embrace with a woman, her shoulder exposed where her burgundy dress sleeve had slipped off. Her comment bubble reads: “Tapas, Darling, Not topless.” That is how the theme of my party was born.

My friends only ended up taking a third of the party favors I had available. (I’m pretty sure Elizabeth left with three parting gifts.) I schlepped the remaining ones to the used bookstore and was able to sell half of them there, gaining a $17 credit to Mr. K’s. The rest, the final third – undesired by friends and the used bookstore – were welcomed into the open arms of the collection bin at Goodwill. Good riddance.

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