Unexpected Delights


Sometimes the best times are the ones that are unplanned and unanticipated.

Today I got an e-mail at work from Diamondqueen. She’d finished her 50,000 words and was a “winner” in the 2007 National Novel Writing Month. I congratulated her and tried not to feel too jealous. After all, I’m only 4,000 words behind her.

She wrote back and said we were going to celebrate her this evening, if anyone wanted to go out to dinner, her treat. Mom would be at the house by 5:30.

So we all went out: Diamondqueen and TPM (who actually put out the cash for the feast, despite Diamondqueen’s posturing), the Hooligan kids, Mom, and me. Diamondqueen had already chosen Lone Star as the restaurant. The first weekend of NaNoWriMo, my sister had issued a writing challenge to me. Whoever wrote the most words between midnight Saturday and midnight Monday won bragging rights and a gift from the loser, who had to bow down before the winner and declare her the writing “queen.” Of course she beat me handily (I write much more slowly because I’m too careful). In honor of her victory, this evening Diamondqueen wore a plastic tiara of a pink metallic hue. She wore it into the restaurant, although not through dinner (partly because it wouldn’t sit on her fat head but kept popping off and shooting into the air).

Meals with the Hooligans can be wild, but tonight everything went smoothly. Everyone felt well, the food was good, spirits were high, and the kids actually ate. We laughed a lot and enjoyed ourselves. To have something go that seamlessly is rare.

As we rode back to the Hooligan residence, holiday lights gleaming here and there through the November dusk, I thought of all the times we’d planned outings and celebrations that just didn’t go off the way we’d hoped. Someone had a headache, someone was in a temper, a meal order got screwed up or the food wasn’t cooked well, the kids were hellions and made everyone miserable. There’s usually something. Tonight, it was a pleasure.

And it reinforced my belief in being open to the spur-of-the-moment, in cultivating the willingness to pick up and do something without too many calculations and designs. A life of constant impetuosity becomes chaotic, and there’s lots of juice in being able to look forward to something. Now and then, though, it’s nice to just dive in. And it’s even better when it turns out beautifully.

No, I won’t celebrate Thursday evening when I hope to finish up my own 50,000 word marathon, at least not with a group dinner. I’ll savor a little self-satisfaction, but I kind of hitched my star to Diamondqueen’s tonight and celebrated my approaching victory within myself. The juice of confident anticipation made the steak and shrimp even more flavorful.

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