I think it was darn nice of Chatham County Line to throw me a birthday party. Thanks, y’all. Last night they invited 750 people to the Haw River Ballroom to celebrate. There was a massive tree. There was a festive crowd. This, by the way, was not my first Chatham County Line birthday party. This is also not the first time I’ve turned 29. I think if something is working for you, you might as well stick with it.
We got there early and came in several carloads for dinner at the General Store beforehand. It was mayhem, in the nicest way. Tables were long since filled when we arrived, and there was a 45 minute wait for food, but nobody minded. We took over the feed bags at the end of the peanut butter aisle and proceeded to kick off the party.
Shout out to the extremely patient waiter wearing the Thor shirt. He threaded his way through the elbow-to-elbow crowd about a thousand times that I saw with arms full of plates, and never once stopped smiling. I hope everyone working last night went home with pockets full of Christmas tips. That was a huge crowd of music fans to feed.
My people filtered in, and we wrapped around to the olive oil section, and debated what you’d do with the liquid bouillon in a jar and caught up over beers. Some of these people I see all the time. Some I don’t see nearly often enough. It was great fun to have them all in one place for a little while.
Of course the show was great, it always is. And I love the ballroom, and the band, and the lovely people on all sides of me.
Speaking of lovely people on all sides of me, the most memorable moment of the evening wasn’t actually music-related this time. I was minding my own business when suddenly an incredibly tall and exuberant (read: inebriated) lone dancer appeared at my left side and danced at me enthusiastically. He gained no traction, and twirled around me over to Julia, who is both prettier and friendlier in these awkward situations than I am, and in no time had his arm around her as she smiled and studiously ignored him. I was laughing too hard to be much help. Suddenly Julia was extricated from the entanglement by my grad school guys. Out of the corner of my eye I think I saw Michael put her in a headlock and deftly spin her around behind him and out of sight while Ben stepped in to take her place. It was like a Delta Force maneuver. They apologized later that it took them longer than half a second to do that, but they thought we knew him.
Lone Dancer looked baffled as to why his arm was around Ben, then scooched back over to me and kicked the dancing up a notch. It was spectacularly awkward and fabulous. Before I could compose myself from the laughing, the wagons were circled, and I was flanked on all sides by a battalion of my people, all simultaneously pretending to be my boyfriends. They’re that good, even if it’s just warding off an enthusiastic Lone Dancer. Pretty sure they’d all lie down on a train track for me if they had to, and I’d do the same for any of those guys, and all the girls, too.
And we’re back to safe places. Lately it seems like they’re harder to come by, and so I make a point these days to recognize them, and remember them. These safe places might be actual places, like the Ballroom, but they might also be as simple as the space of your favorite song, the neighbors you know are taking care of your baby dog so you don’t have to worry, the drive down a long country road to a sweet little village, or the feeling of being encircled by the people you love.
The night was a success on all fronts. Happy birthday to me.