Traditions

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So, under the construct of this blog-a-day-in-December plan, a few serendipitous things happened with the timing of topic suggestions and where the calendar fell. Not the least of which was that my 25th request was for “traditions.” As you may know, the 25th of December is Christmas Day – what could be better for talking about traditions?

However, as sometimes happens, real life got in the way of serendipity. Nearly ten members of my family descended on my tiny apartment for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, where I proceeded to cook a feast of seven fishes, a full holiday brunch, roast beef tenderloin, and about a million appetizers. And then things got really crazy with work. The blog suffered and I made no post on that day or for many days after. As my one friend would say, “le sigh.”

Despite not writing, I was, nonetheless, thinking about family and holiday traditions. But, here’s the thing. We don’t have many. Is that weird? We’re sort of an eclectic, decentralized bunch. We love each other a lot and enjoy getting together, but we’re inconsistent.

Sometimes the holidays mean travel; sometimes they mean staying close to home; sometimes we exchange presents; sometimes just hugs. They usually mean eating turkey. We didn’t this year, much to my dad’s chagrin.

Almost universally, my family values adventure. My one brother skipped the family affair to drive his RV to the outer desert to bake in the sun with his girlfriend this Christmas. My other brother is spearheading an excursion to Oregon in a few weeks to forage for truffles in the woods. At 77 and 71 years old, my parents are currently plotting their fourth move across the country. Me? I’ll be on planes six times in the next four weeks. It’s in our blood.

Family Adventure: Early Days

Family Adventure: Early Days

Family Adventure: Early Days

Family Adventure: Early Days

Family Adventure: Early Days

Family Adventure: Early Days

It made me wonder… can adventure in and of itself be considered a tradition? Every year the sous chef and I plan one big trip (Alaska is a serious contender this year), which I suppose is a bit of a tradition? My brothers have both traveled the world, but have always somehow made it back to live in southern California. My parents never fear moving, but always end up as homebodies, wherever they land. When we do gather as a family, it’s rarely be in the same place and the players vary, but the food is always good and the bickering is always measured with laughter.

In the end, tradition seems to be what you make of it. It could be doing the same thing every year, or making it up all new each year. I think that what really matters is to simply love what you do and to never stop doing what brings you joy.

On that note, I have airline tickets to book. Later.

My first flight: Solo at six years old

My first flight: Solo at six years old

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Dancing on tables, aka how to feel the carefree abandon of 21 again

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As I write this, I am a bit under the weather. No great surprise. I’ve been on massive overdrive for multiple weeks on end. And, when you reach my delicate age, the universe likes to remind you that your body just can’t keep up the way it used to.

Some folks know that I deplore getting older. The whole thing just feels like one big shitty joke. It’s not even so much that you tire more easily, or that you don’t spring back as quickly. It’s that I feel like the window for adventure narrows a bit with each successive year.

Like most, I did not feel this same sense of wistfulness at 21 years old. This is partially due to the sheer volume of time that I spent drunk. But I was also living each second fully and with nearly complete abandon. I had no idea what was coming and, it turns out, that was a good thing.

You know how when people talk about the ultimate state of partying, they jokingly reference “dancing on tables”? I danced on tables. Not metaphorical tables. Real life, four legs, one flat surface tables; praying that they had enough structural integrity when my three friends climbed up there with me, especially when one is 6’4” and an easy 200 pounds.

It was the late 90s in Aix-en-Provence and the scene was the Eden Roc, a bistro by day, dance club by night. Most weekend nights, we’d show up around 10:30 or 11 pm, just when dinner service was wrapping up. We would hang out for a bit with our glasses of whatever and sway to the music. But, eventually, someone would consume one too many glasses of whatever and they’d move their personal dance party up to one of the tables. From there, it just lost all sense of daily decorum.

dancing 1dancing 3

Now, I’ve since been known to shake what my mama gave me on a Vegas bar and a New Orleans stage, but no memory is more wonderfully outrageous to me than the tables at the Eden Roc.

I think we all know that I’ll never be 21 again. In fact, I will probably never again dance on the tables in the South of France. But, I am far from done.

Just this past fall, I saw the sun come up over Bourbon Street. After a night of some reasonable debauchery, I was dragging home my two girlfriends at daybreak. (Note: These two just shy of 30-somethings whined the whole way that I was being a buzz kill, since a few clubs were still open. Um, no.) The year before,  I was pouring these same girls into a cab after closing down the bars in Louisville, following an epic wedding. It was nearly dawn.

At 38, I see many more days that start at 6 am than end at that hour. But I’ve still got about one per year left in the tank. I expect that, in the next few decades, it might be like one every few years. And that’s ok. The key is that is still happens. There’s still a light breeze coming through the window. The day it’s fully shut, I will surely suffocate.