“An engagement party? On a Tuesday?” My husband raised an eyebrow.
“Yes,” I said, wheezing. I was getting dressed and doing what can most flatteringly be described as The Tights Dance.
“At a coffee shop?”
“Yes!” I headed to my closet, slipped two short boots on my feet and did a flamingo impression: the silent request to help pick a pair of shoes.
“Neither,” he made an icky face. “You’re dressed kind of nice for a coffee shop.”
“Yeah, maybe, but…engagement party.” Surely the dressing dilemma was apparent. Just then, the kid with the best fashion sense in the family walked by. I stopped him and recreated the flamingo.
“Brown,” he said barely looking up from the screen in his hands.
“Not a little overdressed?” I asked.
“It’s impossible to be overdressed. Brown.” And off he went leaving me to wonder how an 11-year-old boy became so wise.
“You can tell me,” my husband continued while I made both feet match. “You’re going out for drinks with your friends, right?”
“Yes, I confess!” The sarcasm level was off the charts.
“Drinks! Friends! My friends and I will drink coffee to celebrate the engagement of a mutual friend.”
And with that my brown booties walked me out the door.
He was right about one thing, though: It seemed an unlikely time and place for an engagement party.
But lately I am drawn to any beacon of happiness. If the couple wanted an engagement party at a coffee shop on a Tuesday night then — by golly! — I’m going to go, grab a mug by the handle and happiness by the hand and celebrate!
The party was charming. Sure, the time and date were a little unconventional, but, no surprise, so is my friend. Unconventional and thoughtful with a very big heart. The coffee shop was where the couple had their first real, face-to-face conversation and, later in time, the place where they became engaged. It was the perfect place to celebrate their betrothal.
And it was also the place where I recognized, not for the first time of late, that in my quest to grab hold of any happiness, I’ll often find it in an unexpected place.
After the Thanksgiving turkey was put away and days before the engagement party, I had gone holiday shopping with family…to The Plaza…on Black Friday.
I know millions of people shopped happily that day, but I stand with Team No when it comes to Black Friday shopping. Add a dislike of large crowds and cold and it’s easy to understand why I’m also Team No for the Country Club Plaza at Christmastime. True story: In the 18 years that I’ve lived in Kansas City, I’ve never been. I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures of it that are taken from a far better angle than I could ever get (also see: cold and crowds), there never seemed a reason to go.
But we had out-of-town family with us and an obligation to show off our fair city in its best light. The last place I wanted to be suddenly seemed like the obvious place to be, so I trudged to the Plaza with a semi-fake smile on my face…
…and left, hours later, with a very real one in my heart.
By mid-afternoon I was having such a great time people watching, hanging out with family and finding deals that kept us there until dark.
I now have memories (and a giggly Facebook Live video) of me walking with people I love and grabbing hold of a beacon of happiness that was hidden in the most obvious of places: in the bright, holiday lights.