When I turned 33 I had a Cowboys & Ninjas- themed birthday party. Every year I would have some sort of theme party to celebrate turning one year older. Previous themes included: 80s, Bowties & Moustaches, MadHatter and Pizza & Chocolate (I know, the last one was lame; it was the year I was planning my wedding and planning a big theme party just seemed like too much that year). Throwing a good theme party takes some skill. You need to pick a theme that is exciting enough that good photos will be shot but easy enough that most people can find something in their closet to wear. Cowboys & NInjas seemed to meet that criteria. I try to incentivize my guests by giving out prizes, which I tend to make up on the spot. Some are obvious- like best bowtie and some are spontaneous- like best 90s costume worn to an 80s party.
As the host, there’s a lot of pressure to be in good costume for the party. My first instinct for Cowboys & Ninjas was to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but the more I heard people talking about coming, the less cowboys I thought there would be, so I scrapped my green hoodie in search for something western. Creativity struck and I ordered some men’s underwear- the tighty whitie variety- and got my red and blue markers out to decorate. I found a tan colored tank top, a cowboy hat and boots. I made a guitar out of cardboard. Soon I became the Naked Cowboy.
It was a hit. It took a lot of guts to prance around in just underwear and a tank top, but that’s the kind of person I was. I liked being the center of attention, making people laugh. I may or may not have made some new friends slightly uncomfortable, with my faux- near nudity. We played the Wii, ate Ninja food (pizza, sushi, shumai) and Cowboy food (pigs in a blanket, cowboy dip) and prizes were awarded. Best group costume (a set of four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- far better than the costume I planned) and best Denim on Denim for the cowboy.
I was so carefree at that party. That was in the “before.” I was fun, uninhibited, guiltless in my enjoyment. I threw parties! Now I live in the “after.” Small talk is harder. Smiling doesn’t come as easily. I don’t want to be center of attention. The idea of running around a party in such an outfit feels wrong. I know this is all part of the grief journey, but it’s discouraging how long it takes. I thought I’d be in a different place by now. I know doing the job I do has complicated my journey and I try to remind myself that, but I’m struggling to find joy in my job again. Every now and then I see glimpses of the old me- truly enjoying her self, finding satisfaction at work. I can remember what she was like.
I miss the old Meghan. She was fun.