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Yesterday’s challenge was to write about what my favorite party would be like. Would there be streamers, what kind of music, what kind of food, which of my friends would be there, what would the theme be?

But I got busy yesterday and didn’t get around to it. I admit, I mostly didn’t do it because my favorite kind of party is not having a party. I’m an introvert. I don’t do parties. It makes me cranky and nervous and my stomach does flips and I want to throw up and I feel like I say stupid things.  If there’s music, I want to dance, but I don’t really want to dance because if I do, then people will look at me and realize that I have no sense of rhythm.  There wouldn’t be enough booze in the county to make me comfortable at a party. One of the last parties I went to, I ended up drinking straight tequila and called a young guy a pussy because he was looking for something to mix it with. In retrospect I’m surprised he didn’t pour the bottle over my head.

If I were forced to have a party, it would be very small with only a few friends (maximum 6) and I wouldn’t feel the need to get blind drunk in order to survive it. I probably wouldn’t call anyone a pussy, either, but that’s not really guaranteed. I wouldn’t want a theme, but I would want some good music (I’d have to livestream a Kansas City alternative station). Food would be easy stuff, like chips and dip, maybe a bread bowl, some cheese and crackers. Nothing too extravagant or I would worry about it all night.

We’d hang out, listen to tunes, talk about movies and books (but not politics) and have some cocktails. I’d have people gather in the living room, so it would be small and cozy and everyone would be comfortable. Even at that, I’d probably have to pop a Valerian Root in order to stay calm enough to enjoy myself.  Maybe we’d play a round of Cards Against Humanity or Trivial Pursuit.

Or not. I’m getting anxious just thinking about this imaginary party.

The next challenge is a bit easier. In this one the goal is to write about something that is ending or closing that I want to see one last time.

It’s an easier challenge in the sense that I have some choices about how to approach it. It’s harder in the sense that I’m just not very sentimental. When I left my hometown to come the PNW, I did a kind of driving, visual goodbye. I drove around the town and thought about different places I’d been that I loved – Fun House Pizza, the little Chinese restaurant where I occasionally got take-out, the old building where I worked, a cemetery we would go to in high school to try to scare ourselves. Nothing deep, nothing too hard to process.

I have one small regret, though. When MoC passed away, we had her cremated and interred next to my father in a mausoleum. I went with my brother to sign the paperwork and the clerk asked us if we wanted to be there when they interred her ashes. We said no. We’d already had the memorial service. In my mind there was nothing left to say and nothing left to do.

Once the plot had been paid for and the papers signed, I never went back. Not once. I told myself that she lives on in me – and I believe that is true to a large degree. It is equally true that I simply couldn’t go back there. I didn’t want to see her name and the dates of her birth and death. I didn’t want to relive any of it. In my heart, I know that I did the best I could. I took care of her to the very best of my ability and it wasn’t easy. In fact it fucking sucked. I hated watching her slip away. And I also felt I’d failed her in some way. That somehow I hadn’t done quite enough, hadn’t tried hard enough. One flash of memory is of the last time she went out with her friends. I helped her get dressed. I put her makeup on for her. And I couldn’t get her earrings in. I was afraid I’d hurt her if I pushed the earring post too hard or if it wasn’t in the exact right spot. She couldn’t see it to do it herself and she got frustrated with me and told me to forget it.

And so now I live with the idea that she knew she probably wouldn’t get to have dinner with her friends again (it was just a few months before she died) and she had to go without earrings. I have never forgiven myself for that. Silly. It was just a cheap pair of earrings. But going back to the cemetery to ‘visit’ her would have brought all of that back.

I think I am a very strong person but that earring story – that tiny, stupid failure – haunts me. So I left town, knowing I was probably not going to return – and I left without visiting my mother’s urn one last time.