Good Libations

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My Great Gatsby themed surprise thirtieth birthday party!

It’s after midnight on a cool Sunday night in May. All is quiet in the streets (a rarity!) and I’m snuggled on the sofa with my two furry kitties. I’m not tired in the least, and even if I were it would be strange to go to bed alone. Jeff has been in Madrid for a week now, but I’m still getting used to the silence that hangs in the evening hours. The month of May rolled in like a freight train with celebrations and parties and new beginnings. It’s only now that I’ve had a moment to sit in silence, to think, to reflect, to absorb what has taken place over the last two weeks.

I’m still baffled at just how wily my family and friends were to pull off a sneaky soiree the night of my birthday. I had taken the day off, slept in, went shopping, relaxed and swayed in the hammock under a brilliant afternoon sun. I met the girls at the W Hotel for early evening cocktails with a view of the Barcelona coastline from twenty-six stories high. But soon after our first round arrived, things started getting … well … weird. Anne hands me a bag, one I recognize as mine, and tells me that I’m to get changed, and quickly! When I return, I’m decorated with a few rather odd accessories – a feather boa and a satin headband embellished with a very large black feather. Once I’m good and…what’s the word…ready??…I’m escorted downstairs to where Jeff is waiting for me. I step out into the courtyard to find my husband dressed as if he’s just stepped off stage from his greatest swing dancing performance, a giant grin spread across his face. I’m completely perplexed. You might be thinking that it couldn’t have been more obvious, but somehow the suspenders, the bow tie, the feathers, not even the Fedora gave it away. We hopped in a cab and sped away as I was made to think we were running very late. It wasn’t until I realized we were traversing a giant square around the city that I started connecting the oh so obvious dots. Sure enough, we pulled into Plaça Sant Jaume (aka HOME) and returned home to find a party already under way. I had traveled back in time as soon I stepped through the door: silent movies, jazz music, a gramophone, flappers, hats, and lots of bourbon, whiskey, and gin. Every detail had been thought of, even down to a black and white photo booth and a rooftop movie projection of the original The Great Gatsby. The thirties never looked so good.

The celebrations continued the next day as Jeff prepared to walk at his graduation from IESE, the pinnacle of his sacrifice and dedication over the last eighteen months. The view from IESE’s North Campus was certainly worthy of such an occasion as the audience and graduates alike faced a beautiful Barcelona skyline in the distance. As I waited for the ceremony to begin, I visited with other partners who have faced similar challenges during the program and we felt we deserved our own quiet round of congratulations. Later, a few speakers spoke about the support of family and friends, that graduation is a celebration of us too. We returned to our seats just as the Graduation Song was cued and a steady stream of soon-to-be MBA’s filed into the room with reserved excitement. Sitting in the audience I felt an overwhelming wave of pride when the Dean announced Jeff’s name to approach the President of the university, shake his hand and receive his diploma. This was the moment. This is what justified so many long hours of prolonged stress, projects, papers, applications, and interviews. But at the same time, the moment Jeff received his diploma, the story of our lives in Barcelona began drawing to a close.

Jeff packed and left for Madrid the very next day. The real world was waiting for him on Monday morning, day one of his new career. That same Monday morning myself and four other chaperons met forty-four seventh graders at the airport to board a plane bound for Rome. Four days later I was exhausted, sleep deprived, and running on reserved energy from the enormous amount of carbs consumed in the Eternal City. As the [revised] saying goes, “May comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. I’m certainly looking forward to the latter.

Beyond proud of Jeff’s accomplishments. Congratulations!
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