Tara and I have a friend who throws a summer solstice party every year. We’d received invitations the past couple of summers but hadn’t been able to make it. This year, we decided to RSVP early and commit to going. After all, we’ve known Lisa for a few years – she’s a fellow author that I met through blogging, and she and her husband turned us on to one of our favorite Portland restaurants, Navarre. Plus, I equate solstice parties with hippies, and those are some fun people to hang out with.
I emailed Lisa a few days before the shindig to ask her if the party was going to include naked dancing by moonlight. I was trying to determine whether or not to bring my bongos, and also to gauge just how much hemp seed and kombucha to pack. That’s when I learned that this was to be a fully-clothed affair and that, while the potluck might include organic foods, it would also have Lay’s potato chips and Diet Coke.
Whew. Glad I checked in advance and saved myself from a potentially embarrassing situation! I left the drums home and trucked on over there with a nice Frito corn salad instead. I did show up in flip-flops, but it was eighty degrees out, so this was more about personal comfort than feeling a close connection with Mother Earth.
We had a good time, even though we knew nobody aside from Lisa and her husband. I had been warned there would be a lot of writers in attendance. Great, I thought. I’m going to be surrounded by a bunch of socially awkward, self-important loners living in their own fantasy worlds. But then I remembered that I’m a writer, so instead I was like, “Cool.” And it was cool. They were cool. I was cool. We were all cool despite being fully clothed. We ended up chatting quite a bit with one couple in particular. They were older, but really friendly and easy to get along with. Sharon is a writer (shocking) and former hospice nurse who self-published a memoir. I happen to have a strong interest in near death experiences and the afterlife, and asked Sharon whether any of the patients she cared for had ever had deathbed visions – something not uncommon in hospice patients.
“Oh, a lot of them,” she replied, and went on to recount stories of patients talking to departed relatives who they claimed were sitting on the edge of their beds, and even – in one case – hugging an invisible entity. Upon hearing that I got goosebumps, and I mean actual, literal ones. I even raised my arm to show them off. Weird moment perhaps, but damn…that stuff fascinates me. And it led to a spirited (pun intended) discussion on the deck when we got home. We talked about souls and dreams and parallel universes and the idea that we might all be stardust. I’d elaborate, and really want to, but will save that for another blog post.
One of the couples arrived well after the party had gotten started and offered up apologies for showing up late. “We just came from another solstice party,” she explained. “I hear they’re all the rage these days,” I said jokingly. “Well, not ‘these’ days – just this day,” she corrected me. “The solstice only occurs once a year.” And that, my friends, was the precise moment when the evening turned into a Portlandia sketch.
I mean that in the best way possible.
And I didn’t have the heart to tell her there are actually two solstices as that would have been splitting hairs.
How’d you celebrate your solstice? Are parties a “thing” where you live? What about kombucha? Know anybody who had a deathbed vision?