On Wednesday nights, we have formal dinners, which means we eat an hour later, and we all dress up. So: 7:15 found me closing the powerpoint presentation I'm building for a talk I give at lunchtime tomorrow, slipping on my new satin minidress, putting on heels and mascara, and heading out the door to grab my friend and stride off to our main hall, where we were served various smoked fishes and tiny shrimps before a gorgeous and strange tower of black pudding, pork, and creme fraiche topped with apple arrived before us. Somehow no one noticed that I'd not gotten my wine topped up; I watched two rounds of others' getting topped up, of carafes emptying, and knew that in at least a couple of crucial ways, I have once again become such a presence as to go completely unnoticed.
And yet somehow, by the end of the night, I'd still eaten and drunk more than I'd meant to. Wednesdays are like this. They're also like this: at every formal hall, there's at least one moment when I can't hear a word of a conversation to which I seem to be listening intently. Tonight, I held myself carefully in a posture of amusement and interest while someone two people away, someone whose voice's cadence I could hear even though there were no meanings attached to the sounds he made, told a story about someone he once knew. It's not my favorite way to be near a conversation. But the concomitant lesson I've learned is how to listen carefully to the conversation I can hear, even if it's not one in which I can participate.
This afternoon, though it was bright and sunny, it was also raining. I should be used to this kind of contrast by now; it is so much like so much of life itself.