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Best Night Ever (Not Really)

best night ever At long last, here I am telling you about last Thursday night (a.k.a. "Best Night Ever" or my "affair" with Dave Matthews). Please pay careful attention to those foregoing scare quotes. These little squiggles are important qualifiers. Because, no, it was not actually the best night ever. (That would actually be a toss-up between the night I met Husband, or the night he asked me to marry him, or the night we said "I do." And calm down. My babes were born during the day.) Furthermore, I say affair because it was a black tie affair, one at which the glorious Dave performed. That's it. No sordid extra-marital canoodling. Yes, that would make for more interesting blog fodder, but I love Husband and he is the sole recipient of canoodles. Sorry to disappoint.

But I digress. It was an amazing night. Amazing for so many reasons. First of all, it is fun to get all dolled up, to wear a floor-length gown and high heels, to see your man in not just a tux, but his wedding tux. And this event, this affair? It was held at the American Museum of Natural History where Husband and I had our wedding reception almost exactly five years ago. So not only did we get all gussied up, but we walked hand-in-hand up those fabled front steps overlooking the park, through those vast dinosaurs made of pine and blanketed in white lights, into the front hall where our wedding guests once welcomed us for cocktails.

So Husband and I floated through that amber-lit hall, taking it all in. Guests this time. Sipping drinks and nibbling passed goodies, remembering a magical night years ago where I wore a bigger dress and he wore this same tux. And then. When it was time, we moved on. To the Hall of Ocean Life. The Big Blue Whale. The whale I worshiped as a girl. The whale that loomed low over our biggest night. The whale under which Mom and Dad and others gave their unforgettable wedding speeches. The whale under which we danced and danced and danced some more, celebrating that present moment and what was to come.

And so. Once more, Husband and I descended those grand steps, hand-in-hand, to the space where our marriage began (and where our little girls would later learn to crawl). Last time we made a grand entrance, eyes were on us, we were embraced by a sea of those we love most and took to the dance floor for our first dance. U2's "All I Want Is You." Despite the bevy of dance lessons, we were far from smooth. Husband stepped on my dress and I laughed hard. But we made it through. All smiles. Big, goofy smiles.

Almost five years later, we sat with my family around a round table in this same room. We looked around. We spotted familiar faces. The infamous Eliot Spitzer and his still-wife. A few tables away? The current cast of SNL, Lorne Michaels, and Jimmy Fallon. And then Tom Brokaw took the mike and initiated the auction where fellow guests offered vast sums of money for very wonderful items. And then. It was time.

Dave Matthews took the stage. Sister C and I swooned. To say that we were, and are, big Dave fans is a severe understatement. Husband was/is a fan as well. Between the members of our table, we had been to countless concerts. I remember those concerts. I remember singing along. I remember my good friend who insisted on making grilled cheese in the parking lots after the shows and selling them to giddy concertgoers (high on life and other things.) I remember listening to the music, swaying, bumping into happy strangers. I remember the fresh air and familiar tunes. I remember, in these moments, being so happy.

And so I was brought back. To my youth. To a time when I was a bit more free. To a time when I had crushes on celebrities and musicians. And when Dave was finished playing, we clapped and screamed a bit. And when many of the more seasoned (and behaved) guests began to depart, we relative babies lingered. We drank more wine. We reminisced. We roamed around the vast space under that whale. Sister C was the brave one of the pack and flitted over to the cast of SNL. I was quick to follow. We all were.

Before I knew it, we were chit-chatting with Kristen Wiig and Seth Myers and in the immediate orbit of Jimmy Fallon. We were giggling, being silly like old times. And then it was getting late. And we headed out. Up those steps once more, through the Hall of Biodiversity, a hall that means a great deal to my family for reasons I won't go into now, back out into that fungible fresh air. Back into our current lives.

But before we went back to our home, to our jeweled life as parents, Husband and I stopped for some late night grub. Like the old days. I ordered french fries. And I gobbled them up with abandon while reliving the night with Husband, my man, my sole crush these days. We laughed and remembered. We marveled at how far we have come in five short years and how as fun as the night was, we would never choose to go back. Never.

And the next day, I had lunch with Mom. I thanked her for inviting us to this affair. My smile was giddy. "It was so much fun, Mom," I said. "I felt so young, so free, so happy. I felt like me again." And when I asked if she understood what I meant, she nodded. And then I followed up because I am not one to leave these things alone. I said, "Mom, adulthood is so serious. There are so many things to worry about. But it's nice to have fun, real fun, once in a while. We need to have that kind of fun more often."

And now I write this. Several days after the fact. And I'm thankful I've let some time pass, that I've been able to digest the nutrients of that night. Because, suddenly, that night doesn't seem so cool. And this could very well be that it really wasn't that amazing, but that my life, my current life, by comparison, is decidedly less celebrity-ridden and sexy and exciting. Or it could be that back in the throes of my current life, a life less free and glamorous, I now realize that I would choose this over that pretty much any day.

And as I write this, as I go on a bit too long, I listen once more to Dave. In my ear, he croons, "Celebrate we will/ Because life is short but sweet for certain..." And at these words, these old and familiar and lovely words that smack of childhood and truth, I nod. And smile. Because life is short, but sweet for certain. And all of us deserve to celebrate, to go back, to be silly, to eat late night fries, every now and then.

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If you have made it this far, tell me about the last time you went out and let go and had some old school fun. Tips on how to infuse moments of genuine celebratory fun into a more serious and sober adult life? Oh, and were/are you a Dave fan too?

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