It's awkward — walking into a party alone when the only people you know are the hosts. Ack. Introductions, everyone else cozily coupled. The din at a level that makes it difficult to hear conversations, and conversations with complete strangers are difficult even with the best acoustics.
So I filled a plate with food (the requisite crudités [rainbow carrots, cauliflower, broccoli-ettes], the expected hummus, the bowls of whole grain & seeded chips, the goat cheese display), grabbed a hard cider and sat down in the middle of a group of people and made small talk. Very small talk, that seemed to go nowhere.
How's the water situation in San Diego?
Are these windows original?
Which of you are siblings?
Have you tried the baba ganoush?
I like parties.
I like people.
But going it alone can be daunting, and after an hour of chattery fits and starts (was I making any sense?), I made my exit, slipped off up the alley and headed home as the evening was cooling, past lilacs just past their prime, beneath bowers of mountain ash whose fragrance careened me back decades to the back yard of my childhood home, and the woods beyond, nettles beginning to line the path, fiddlehead ferns unfurling in the shadows as I sighed home, home, home.