Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Theatre of Life (Step 1)

Picture a theatre in your mind's eye, the orchestra seats are the most expensive, then the rear orchestra, first balcony and second balcony. Who is in the orchestra seats of your theatre, taking the best seats in your life...are they worthy of that position? For purposes of this demonstration, my theatre does not have box seating.

This idea began running through my mind as I've begun putting the guest list together for my 2nd 39th birthday celebration. I love all of my family, but I darn sure don't like all of them, want to party with all of them or spend money on all of them (y'all know I'm telling the truth, don't front). The term "friend" has become so ubiquitous that I had to consider and reconsider who is a friend, a sistahgrrrl, an associate, an acquaintance, etc.

How would make these decisions?
How could I make these decisions?
Was there a way to avoid these decisions?

In the end, I had to make the tough decisions because my budget wouldn't allow me to invite any and everyone I know or had ever spoken to in the last 39 years. And as we all know, most things like this come down to finances. So I developed a unbiased process and defined some criteria, which seems to have worked (keeping fingers crossed).

Step 1: Define the categories

1. Family: these are people with whom I share DNA, plus a few super-close family friends we call "cousins." The delineation is clear, blood relations are family, and in a lot of Black families other assorted "cousins" is the norm. These are the ties that have bound me for almost 40 years; these are the ties that keep me grounded in who I am and whose I am; and these are the ties that may get a little weak from time-to-time, but they have never broken. To put this in perspective, think of the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," and you get the idea.

Note: As a Black woman, I probably should have used the movie "Soul Food" as an example; however, my family is closer in size and composition to the aforementioned. This is why folks are always tryin' to take my card...I represent when it's appropriate and salient.

2. Sistahgrrrlz: these are my good grrrlfriendz. In my mind they are a very specific group of women, who I've known for 16 years. We talk, eat out, share, go to movies, discuss and most importantly pray for each other. Together, we have celebrated successes, mourned losses and rejoiced in triumphs; we have a bond that was knit in the Spirit and it is the Spirit that keeps us together no matter how far apart we may drift. We are a group of 5-6 single, never been married, professional women with no children. Within the last 5 or so years, 2 of us have gotten married, not yours truly.

3. Grrlfriends: these are my friends. They are women who I can depend on and who can depend on me. We do stuff, we talk and have fun together. These are women I first met while working and have maintained contact since leaving the organization. They are intelligent, all having multiple degrees, politically astute and active, and have strong family ties. We collaborated on our jobs and supported each other's work. I would gladly work with any of them again.

4. associates: these are folks who I enjoy spending time with on occasion. I don't have a lot of folks in this category. I try to focus my energy on my existing relationships; however, this group is fun and keeps me laughing.

5. acquaintances and new folks: I have developed some tangential relationships with online "friends," and who's to say those relationships won't grow deeper and stronger.

Now, for the most part, these delineations don't change much, especially groups 1 and 2, though group 2 has had some deletions in the past. Group 3 has grown over the past couple of years as I moved to a new organization a few years ago and began working with more women. Groups 4 and 5 are the most fluid, with the ebbs and flows of people coming and going; however, a few of these people tend to move into 3, even if only for a short time.

More steps will follow as I get closer to mailing the invitations.

Oy!!! It's not a perfect system, it's a work in progress. As long as there are empty seats in my theatre, then the process will never be complete...and I'm glad about it.

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