Dec 11 2015

Glitter, Granite, and Gratitude

Sometimes a holiday party feels more like an obligation than a celebration — especially when it’s work-related, and EXTRA-especially when you’re mostly an introvert. But with two young kids, no family, and a limited number of friends here in California, the opportunities to really go out are sort of few and far between. For that reason, I’ve been looking forward to The Company’s holiday party for weeks. Maybe months.

A sparkly dress! Actual makeup! HEELS, for crying out loud! I’ve been in flip-flops, sandals, and flat boots for like two years straight. Plus, it wasn’t “work related” for me, as my current job involves snuggling a baby and trying (but often failing) to squeeze in thirty-minute blocks of writing during his impossibly short naps.

I’m still too much of a chicken to leave my infant with a stranger — even P has never had a “babysitter” in the true sense of the word — so it was such a relief when my mom agreed to fly out for a few days. It would be our first child-free night in ages.

The rumor mill claimed that this annual gathering was supposed to be kind of epic, and for a holiday party, I guess it was. It reminded me of a super scaled-up wedding: a coat check, cocktail attire, tiny hors d’oeuvres…and, of course, freely-flowing champagne. Here I am after half a glass:

two women in dresses holding champagne

Early in the evening: attempting to keep it cool, classy, and composed.

There was also a dance floor. If you know me, you know that this was almost more enticing than the champagne. (Do I need to hand over my Introvert Card yet? Yes, I love a nice, packed dance floor. I also crave time alone.) While I still miss my Michigan friends to an immense degree, I’m fortunate to have met some wonderful women whose husbands work with Al at The Company. They moved to California around the same time we did, so we are alike in that way. I know there are so many more of us out there, too! Here I am three? several glasses in:

three women in dresses at a party

A few hours later: that moment when your face melts into your neck. Awesome.

Toward the end it started to feel a little less like a wedding and a little more like college: people were spilling drinks left and right, the dance floor became slippery, and there were more than a couple casualties. The most college-y part was when the band played “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and our tiny little cluster of transplants got to scream, “BORN AND RAISED IN SOUTH DETROIT!” at the top of our lungs while everyone else looked on, confused.

Journey, you just get us.

A couple days after we’d recovered from the party, Al and I got to head to the design center to pick out all the interior details for the new house.
woman crouching down to check carpet samples at design center

P went to preschool, and Baby B came with us. It was a super long day — we were there from 9:30 AM until almost 3:30! — but B was so patient and mellow, thank goodness. You can see some of our final choices below.

design center choices: carpet, granite, and tile

Not pictured: dark cabinets and hardwood for the kitchen.

I guess now we just wait for them to break ground on the house! I’m looking forward to watching the progress (and I’ll do my best to keep you posted at each stage).

While I am obviously grateful for a fun night out and the opportunity to choose interior details, something happened yesterday that sort of dominated everything else this week: I found out that I’m a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Your Story competition! These contests attract hundreds of entrants, so to be one of the five finalists is a HUGE honor. There’s no money involved, but to me, the prize is even better: the winning story will be published in an upcoming issue.

This particular competition had only two rules: the story could not exceed 700 words, and it had to begin with this line: “The difference is, I lie for a reason.” I tried to challenge myself to write from a perspective that is completely unfamiliar to me, and I actually really enjoyed venturing that far out of my comfort zone and attempting to see through a totally different lens. I hope I did it justice.

At this point, the winner will be determined by the number of reader votes received. I know some of you have already voted, and I am so, so grateful for you. THANK YOU for helping me pursue the dream I’ve had since I was three years old! I absolutely cannot tell you how much I appreciate your support.

About Melissa

Melissa is a SAG-AFTRA actress and former high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. She is the winner of the SmokeLong Quarterly Grand Micro Contest and a past winner of the Breakwater Review Fiction Prize (selected by Susanna Kaysen, author of Girl, Interrupted), the F(r)iction flash fiction competition, and The Writer's inaugural personal essay contest, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, The Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, HuffPost, Scary Mommy, and The Boston Globe Magazine, among others. She has been shortlisted for both the Bridport Prize and the Bath Flash Fiction Award and was recently selected for The Best Small Fictions and the Wigleaf Top 50. Melissa is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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