Of course I knew the house would be huge. It was on the same street as the Governor's mansion. I assumed, that given it would be a large party, I would be one of the first few guests, even arriving 15 minutes late.

The street is already lined with cars and I silently berate myself for not arriving earlier and missing prime real estate near the driveway. Of course, it's too dark to tell which house I'll be visiting, so I just take the first available spot near a likely cluster of houses.

Exiting the car is treacherous. I'm parked just under a telephone poll and next to a gutter, both of which are being slowly consumed by a jungle of kudzu. I keep thinking this is perfect fodder for a horror movie. As soon as I leave the car, I'll find there is no house, no party. It's all a hallucination induced by pheromones an alien species of plant-like creatures releases to lure their human prey into the forest. I pull my gigantic flashlight (for emergencies) out of my backseat, take a deep breath, and open the car door.

Its not easy walking in heels for a quarter of a mile. I hadn't realised how far I was. My feet begin to blister, my only solace being a couple I spy ahead of me walking toward a house. 

I try to catch up with them, nearly tripping over myself. Then I look up. I have to cross a bridge over a small creek and walk about another 1000 ft. There, in the misty distance, illuminated dramatically by spotlights is The House. White. Greco Roman Revival. Portico bigger than a space shuttle docking bay. Four Mercedes parked neatly in a row in the driveway. I suddenly wonder if I'll start laughing hysterically when a butler opens the door.

I've been to my fair share of fancy events. For some reason, my brain has never developed an immunity to them. Southern affectations I never had before emerge from my subconscious. I start slouching. I forget how to walk without bumping in to things or my Diet Coke keeps threatening to spill as I'm jostled back and forth between elbows and handbags.

There is china; hundreds and hundreds of orange, blue, and gold pieces all over the house. There are worn tapestries and paintings in the classical style whose signatures are curiously hidden. I am greeted by a woman in dashing gray silk and a gold torc around her neck. The hostess. She is very friendly, encourages me to eat, get another drink. 

I found acquintances, chatted around the usual topics. I tiptoed across the glorious Persian carpets (the family was Persian so of course they had exquisite pieces), afraid my heels would do irreperable damage, though nobody else seemed to care. I stood up while eating my three-course, buffet style meal. There weren't any seats anyway, other than the two Louis XIV gilded reproductions in the foyer. It seems to take a lot of energy out of me to be in places like these, that never have dust bunnies or dead batteries in the remote controls. I like a little dirt under my fingernails, a few moldy oranges in the back of the fridge (well, that's a little gross come to think of it).

Its an awful lot of pressure to live up to these impeccable surroundings. To be as delicate and pristine as the marble patterned floors. It seems wasteful to have such amazing possessions hoarded for the enjoyment of so few. I remember feeling this way when I visited an antiquities dealer on Lexington Avenue in New York a few years ago. He had ancient Greek helmets, Egyptian statuary, Byzantine mosaics for sale, for a price. I took home a brochure that could have mirrored for a coffee table book on ancient artifacts. I poured over it at my uncle's apartment, imagining what might exist for sale behind closed doors. What might I be missing of relics of the ancient world, of the marvelous that are kept in people's country homes and city apartments.

Back at the party, I hadn't had any of the Johnny Walker on offering, nor any of the other alcohol offered copiously by the catering staff, but I was drunk on wealth and like any good drunk, felt a morbid longing. I craved my pajamas, a good book, and a nice cup of tea. 

So, I excused myself to my hostess and my friends and pulled my flashlight out of my bag. The walk back to my car was uneventful aside from a few times my heels got stuck on the lawn. The kudzu remained innocuous as I fished my keys out of my purse. I revved the engine, pulled out of my spot and turned the Saturday night Techno show up full blast. I'd been dropped back into my own world where you had to listen to commercials on the radio, and stop for gas, and honk at bad drivers. I pulled into my driveway, expertly stepped over my tower of shoes near the door, and dropped my purse on the floor. My clumsiness was gone, my accent was gone, and I sighed the sigh of a weary traveler come home.  

1 comment:

Olga said...

I can so totally see you walking w/your big flashlight!

I really like the part of the story written in present tense!