Last Thursday was the big annual museum fundraiser. I was an intern there during its very first incarnation and it was a very fancy affair that the E.D. planned and executed with our staff of 6 doing set-up, tear down, and four hours of schmoozing at the party. It was the longest Saturday of my life. The next two years were equally fancy, but each year saw us hiring a bit more help. This was especially good the third year because I was pregnant and couldn’t do any of the heavy lifting.
I left the museum after my youngest was born, never thinking for a minute that I would be running the place just 18 months later. Life is funny that way. The Interim Director who hired me back (before leaving three months later) decided to change our fundraiser party’s focus. This meant holding it at our museum instead of a rented venue and, as a primarily outdoor venue, we ditched the fancy dress for jeans and cowboy boots-much better, even if I’m not normally a boot-wearing kind of gal. Because event planning was no more a part of her skill set than it is mine, we hired one of the best. And even after clashing with her Thursday afternoon, I still feel that way about her.
This year, as I introduced myself to all of our event sponsors and guests, I recognized a lot of the names. They were people from the fancier private schools in the Oklahoma City metro who I encountered at Latin conventions (though our little West Mid High Certamen team was typically victorious over them). Others were student leaders from OU. Over the last few months of party planning, grant writing, and sponsorship solicitation; I’ve wondered if I shouldn’t have tried harder in high school and college to make those so-called connections. My aunt would have happily paid for me to attend Casady or Heritage Hall, but I had friends I loved at West and later Norman High. I was a sorority girl at OU with sisters who were heavily involved in students government and a lot of the other “right” clubs. But I had too much fun going off with my old Masonic youth order friends on the weekends to ever socialize too much outside the DG house doors. I loved my sorority sisters, but that’s as far as it went.
As I’ve written previously, last week was stressful. My weekend was busy with this generation’s Masonic youth activities and in addition to wondering if I’d blown it during college with the wrong loyalties, I wondered if I was wasting my time driving teenaged girls to dances and other ceremonies when I have a house to clean and book chapters to write. Wednesday night’s march practice had me feeling somewhat better, but still, after all of the eye-rolling my oldest daughter subjected me to when all I was doing was trying to help her and her friends had me questioning myself again by Saturday night.
They went to the dance floor, I found a chair in the corner and scrolled through Facebook where all of my other acquaintances seemed to be having a much more entertaining Saturday. But before I could go much farther with my pity party, an old friend’s wife pulled her chair over and refused to let me mope in my corner. Before long, her husband joined her (one of my “twins”-the other one was busy DJ’ing the dance). He patted me on the shoulder and thumped me on the ear as if to say “no pity party for you tonight.” Soon we were joined by a couple of other former youth-turned-leaders. I didn’t really feel like talking much that night, but it was nice just to sit and be with them while they did.
The dance ended with my other evil twin using his microphone to embarrass my girls and then tell them I put him up to it. (Told you he was evil), most of the girls were giggly and happy over the various boys that had asked them to dance, and we had fun laughing about the evening all the way home.
I’m glad I blew off making “connections” to be with my friends. I’m grateful for each and every day I spent with them growing up. And I’m grateful for all of those relationships I had with them then or have renewed with them now. I hope my daughter can say the same 20 years from now. And yes, all of my efforts are definitely worth it.