Friday, June 30, 2017
A Convivial Party
We can live in Ireland for summer because of the friends we've made over the years. In particular we have been welcomed by lesbian friends and their wider community. We've both noticed that the lesbian circles here are like the culture we saw fade away in California sometime in the 1990s.
The other day we were invited to a birthday party hosted by E in her restored cabin near Midleton. The menu was "Indian Potluck" and the celebrants were mostly lesbians.
We were about a dozen, most of our generation, one couple who are in their twenties. It was the usual mix of relationships in a lesbian community: lovers, friends, ex-lovers, three mothers, 35-year friends, new-lover-relationships, comrades-in-arms, ritual-circle sisters, actual sisters.
After dinner, there were presents, and then fruit salad dessert and a little cake. Then JB, our woman-of-the-day, sat in the place of honor and called for a song. The first song was sung— after much cajoling and encouragement—by L, of the younger generation. Then more songs were given, after much cajoling and encouragement—and repeated apologies for the state of our voices. The mother of one of the young ones sang a song her mother used to sing, a song about how she understands young love, because she once had her own. Then C sang a silly version of "Enjoy Yourself" and how it is "lay-der 'dan you t'ink." J sang The Girl From County Clare. Later, J and E sang a duet they had worked up for JB's birthday last year. JB's sister didn't want to sing her own song, so she and JB sang a duet they had learned at school 50 years ago. M sang the blessing about the road rising up. Eventually it came around to us. "The Yanks!" "What about the Americans?" JB looked at me, and I naturally pointed at Artemis, who then sang Cole Porter's "I'm Glad There is You." Then JB was back at looking at me, and I said I know some songs, but my voice isn't what it was, and sang "Love Chooses You" anyway. I know there was at least another song after that, and a few more in-between, but that's all I can remember, as I was in a state of well-fedness, and well-lovedness, surrounded by women-loving-women, all warm and on a pillow on the floor of a woman's own house, while a rain caressed her garden outside the open door.
This is my favorite: stories and songs by our friends and family and ex-lovers and friends-again. I know that this kind of entertainment isn't specific to lesbians, or specific to Irish people, but you can't do better than the two together.
The land of the lesbian living room. My people, anywhere in the world. I can't define if a woman is a lesbian individually, but I can find us in aggregate, here in these private sanctuaries. We define ourselves by living ourselves. If you are a person who does not delight in these little lesbian parties, don't fret. We are disappearing from view. We will go underground, and become quite small, joined only those we choose or steal away.