Did I say I was going to drink only water all weekend? That plan didn't really work out. A bunch of us went out to dinner tonight to celebrate John and Suzanne's thirtieth anniversary, and wine was being poured. And poured and poured, but that's absolutely the last I'll drink for the next several days. This time I mean it.
It was a great time for all of us, and I got to see some folks that I don't have a chance to visit with often enough. I have my sister and brother-in-law to thank for bringing these people into my life, because I don't have co-workers or in-laws or favorite cousins close enough to share good times with. I can't depend on making any connections on my own, so I'm grateful for the network of friends and family that I've become a part of as a fifth wheel.
That isn't a complaint or a cry for help. It's just the way things are, and I'm happy with it. I got a chance to talk baseball and football, books and gardening, with some people who share those interests with me. And I just listened when the conversation turned to areas where I had no direct knowledge to add. You can observe a lot just by watching. I think Yogi Berra said that.
I'm not used to going out, though. Most days I make one trip out, in the morning to the post office. I knew I'd be leaving the house around 4:30 this afternoon, and I spent the whole day watching the clock and calculating how much time I had left. Even when I took a nap this afternoon, I was aware of how long I could sleep and what it would take to get me up and moving again.
Routine is everything in my tiny world. That's why something like tonight is such a novelty. Last night I ate alone, standing at the kitchen counter. Tonight I sat around a big table with ten other people, and every time my glass was empty someone would fill it up again. When you're a fifth wheel, you probably should say yes as often as you can when you get this chance. (The being with people, that is, not the wine drinking.)
Since I live alone and stay home most of the time, it's like a little vacation when I'm in the midst of a bunch of people having a good time. It's like stepping into someone else's life for an evening. It's the kind of thing that makes me appreciate what makes life worth living, and I can hang onto it until the next time.
This wasn't about me tonight, though. Suzanne and John have been married for thirty years! That's a great accomplishment for anyone, I guess, but they were teenagers when they got married, and that probably made them a bad gamble in most people's eyes. If you put your money on them all those years ago, though, you came up a big winner. They have each other, and by a stroke of luck I probably don't deserve, I have them.