Saturday, May 28, 2005

On a Happier Note

My last couple of posts have focused on politics in Celebration in an uncharacteristically negative way. Today soothed my nerves, which have been frazzled over the past week with the parking issue and ongoing online debates, and reminded me why I love it here.

Actually, it was bittersweet fun. We attended a backyard barbeque to send off my neighbors, who are going on vacation to England and then heading off to their summer home. I love the neighborhood parties that are such an essential part of life in Celebration, but I will miss our friends while they are gone. Our little cul de sac is quieter in the summer; it's still a homey place, but there is a definite gap until fall.

My husband and I headed over to Publix to pick up some pies for dessert. At get-togethers, I always opt to bring something that doesn't require cooking or baking. If I can get it at a store, that's fine, but I get much too flustered if it requires any preparation.

Actually, I am a good baker when I'm put on the spot. In high school, Foods class was a highlight of the day. It was scheduled right before lunchtime, and along with a group of friends, I had co-opted a position as "student aid" for the study hall part of the lunch period. My kitchen partner and I would whip up delicious cakes and pies and other goodies, slice them in half, and head off with our booty. I don't know what she did with her share, but upstairs in the Office Education classroom, my friends and I would tuck into our sugar high. As student aids, I supposed that we were supposed to be doing something constructive, like grading papers for the teacher, but she let us run amok around the typewriters, goofing off in typical teenage ways.

But that was long, long ago. Once I married my husband, who is quite a whiz in the kitchen, my cooking skills went dormant. Early in our marriage, I tried to assist in the kitchen, but it drove him crazy. Soon, I learned to just stay out of the way and enjoy the fruits of his culinary labors.

The barbeque allowed his "inner chef" to emerge, as he was placed in charge of the grill. He fired up the Propane King and set to work, cooking up beef and vegetable shish-ke-bobs. Meanwhile, I found my place in the Great Circle of Barbeques: Bartender. We had stopped at the liquor store next door to Publix to pick up some T.G.I. Friday's drink mixes, so I whipped out my handy-dandy Magic Bullet and set to work whipping out frozen libations. The party was being held next door, so I shuttled back and forth with margaritas and pina coladas in tow.

All told, we had five households of neighbors joining together for some Saturday afternoon fun. Back at our condo in Chicago, I can't imagine getting together with any of the people in our building. Well, maybe a couple of them, but a snowfall in Florida is more likely than a large-scale friendly gathering at the condo. When the complex was first built, we used to have an annual block party there, but it's long since gone the way of the dodo due to lack of interest.

In Celebration, neighborliness still exists, and I'm hoping that it won't become an endangered species as the house prices continue to rise. I'm sure that similar gatherings go on every weekend throughout town. One ambitious resident is even organizing a community picnic to allow posters on the community intranet to meet each other face to face.

It sounds corny, but in some ways our town is like a modern version of a Norman Rockwell painting. Granted, we have our issues, as I learned firsthand this week. Celebration as we know it is not immune; someday the canvas could be painted over with a picture of a plain-vanilla suburb. But for right now, it's a great place to live, and I plan to do my part to keep it that way.

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