Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Xmas Party - Lisbon 2004

Sitting on top of my bed in my white and pink pyjamas with my hair up and surrounded by the clothes that I needed to pack into my suitcase, all that I felt like doing was sighing. That moment that I was enjoying all by myself with my music and my candles was the bittersweet breathe before the plunge, that moment when the rollercoaster stops on the highest peak just before it thrusts down in high-speed.
Here I was packing for the grand Christmas party in Lisbon, the one that I’d been waiting all year for. This year looked promising, all my favourite people would be there and I’d finally found the ideal outfit after intensive searching with my best friend.
I knew without a doubt that it would be a weekend with very little sleep, intense emotions and a hell of a lot of fun. Anxiety kept me up long after my bags had been packed and the final touches had been added to the rest of the house. Closing my eyes I smiled in anticipation.

Regardless of the Christmas party, my colleagues and I had still been required to work the morning before catching our flight in the afternoon in time to arrive for the party in the evening. Everything was rushed in fast forward. All the last minute situations and clients were taken care of and thanks to the mad rush; I managed to twist my ankle whilst running down the stairs. I couldn’t believe it! What bad luck just before the event of the year! How was I going to dance? Biting my lip more in frustration than actual pain, I promised myself that I would dance regardless of this little incident and cursed the high-thin-heeled shoes I’d chosen to wear with my outfit. My feet were in for a beating… however, no pain – no gain and I wasn’t going to let my misfortune keep me from doing what I love to do best… moving on the dance floor!

Walking into the massive salon, I felt like Barbie in a sea of plastic. I’d walked into the salon with the head administrator of the company and being surrounded by strange faces drowned my self-assurance. Closing my eyes, I reminded myself of the fun I was going to have and just as I got a boost of confidence, it hit me full force with the vision of one of my closest friends in Lisbon. As always, she looked absolutely stunning and wore an amazing smile that has become her trademark. I immediately plunged into a heartfelt hug leaving my other local colleagues slightly intimidated. Grabbing my hand, I was taken across the room and introduced to a spectrum of new faces, praying that my memory wouldn’t fail me on remembering names and faces; I grabbed a Martini with the other hand hoping it would help shake the weak feeling in my knees.
Taking a quiet moment to myself, I looked around the massive salon, to the ocean of faces, the expensive suits and well dressed ladies and allowed myself to feel the spirit in the room… team spirit. Whether or not the people around me realized it, we all depended on one another. Each of us represents a significant piece no matter how small, to a complex engine, without it TMN would never run as car. For those moments, I relished in the pride of belonging.

Dinner was divine, the jokes told between us were hilarious and the atmosphere was the kind that made you feel like you wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Wine and Food were plentiful, each person had their fill and we were treated to a show by the Fingertips who sang one of my favourite songs of the moment: “Melancholic Ballad”. Everything about the evening was perfect… except maybe for the speech. I came the conclusion that my head administrator seriously needed a couple of lessons on how to write a brilliant speech. That or his secretary was one of those blonde ornament kind who doesn’t know how to put two sentences together but probably gets paid pretty well to work the Monica Lewinsky profile. Once the speech and show was over… the fun began!

Shy or perhaps intimidated by my most prudent and stuck of colleagues, my two contemporaries decided not to join me on the dance floor, however this did not sway me from letting the music invade my senses and allowing my body to respond to the beat. Being joined by some of TMN´s top party animals, I found myself letting loose… cutting off… feeling free. If there’s one sport that I love most in life, it’s dancing! It’s one of the best ways of letting go. Ignoring the pain in my feet, I allowed myself to be swung around the room; I danced with a million faces, faces that no longer felt strange or intimidating. Ranks fell away as so did numbers and statistics, the only thing that mattered on the dance floor is how well you shook your bon bon!

I danced with marketing, technical assistance, IT, Communications, Big Business, people from Porto, People from Açores, heads of departments, managers, administrators… my boss! I danced with them all.
I danced with anyone and everyone who called me to dance with them and then went out and got the non-dancers to join in the fun as well.
From the corner of my eye, I saw the office queen pouting. The others wanted to leave; she had barely danced and had barely crossed eyes with the people surrounding her. I felt sorry for her, being Miss Perfect has it’s disadvantages, the biggest being not being able to make friends when other people didn’t come up to her. Deciding that it was Christmas and to do my good deed for the year, I went and grabbed her hand leading her to the group of people dancing and having fun. She politely refused to dance as partner to every guy that tried, yet I’d like to think she still managed to enjoy herself quite a bit before retreating to the hotel with the others. I was pretty sure that my thanks would come in criticism, most probably for dancing with every Tom, Dick and Harry but I frankly couldn’t give two shits for her opinion.
What people don’t often notice, are the buzzing of self-doubt and insecure thoughts being thrown around in my mind. I hate feeling like I’m being inspected, dissected and evaluated which is how I feel when involved in a huge crowd of people. However I’m grateful to God (and Oprah!) for the inner -strength that I have, able to drown those thoughts in the music and allowing me to have a lot of fun with the other people around me. I guess I’m also always lucky to have amazing people around me.

End of the night, sitting down on the nearest stool, I decided that a crane was going to be needed to lift me up! I didn’t even dare taking off my shoes, knowing very well that once off, I’d never be able to put them back on. I had succeeded in dancing all my favourite songs, dancing with all my favourite colleagues, including a perfect meringue with TMN´s best Latin dancer. He managed every move perfectly even though he’d had one too many drinks. The only think I love about alcohol excess is some of the honesty you get with it. In-between the amazing meringue I was let know on how much my friendship meant to my colleague and was humbled at the words we always assume other people know so we never say out loud. I wanted to end the perfect evening with the perfect smile, however I was sentenced to one… (or a few) last dances with a cowboy. So ignoring the feet that were threatening to fall off, I once again took the floor and gave the best that my weary body could give. I get such a high from the dance floor. It’s one of the few times in life when you can let go completely and let the music and/or someone else take over. If I worked in the recruitment office, you could bet that I’d make sure every person in our company was a dancer! I thanked my two favourite colleagues for an amazing evening and made my way towards the car.
Next year I’d be sure to take a pair of sneakers with me!
Although exhausted, my colleague still treated me to a tour around the city before leaving me at my hotel. I was charmed by all that Lisbon had to offer, won over by its cultural essence. Looking to my left, I remembered to thank my lucky stars for meeting amazing people. I know that memories such as these are priceless and something no one will ever be able to take from me.

You know the party is truly over when you remove your make up, wash your face and get back into your pink and white pyjamas. Treating your feet to a mini-message you thank God for another year, another Christmas party and smile with that awesome feeling, that this year’s party had been the best so far!

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