Monday, November 16, 2009

Polina's birthday, part 3

On Saturday night Polina and I hosted the first public event for Open Love NY, a combination kick-off meeting and birthday party for her 19th birthday. It’s something we’ve been planning for the past three weeks or so, and the past couple of weekends we’ve been working pretty hard on it. I’m happy to report that everything went off pretty much as planned, and a great time was had by all.

I picked Polina up from my local train station in Montclair Friday night and we stopped at the local diner for dinner. I was amused by two kids in the next booth behind her who couldn’t stop staring at her purple hair. We got home and worked on our donation jars for our three non-profit causes – Cunning Minx’s podcast Polyamory Weekly, Kenneth Haslam’s Polyamory Library at the University of Indiana, and the Jim Collins Foundation (which helps pay for life-altering surgeries for transgender people). We also finalized the event sign-in sheet, survey, donation descriptions and sent out a reminder on Facebook.

Saturday we got a very late start after a relationship check-in talk before getting out of bed in the early afternoon. We had some cereal while waiting for our friend Laura to arrive before we all went out to gather the birthday cake, food and last minute errands, like making copies of the survey and buying a wireless microphone (which we ultimately ended up not using). By the time we got home there was barely enough time to get something to eat, get changed, and load up Yoshi – and we still had to go back once because we forgot Polina’s MacBook that had our music playlist on it.

We were fortunate not to hit too much Saturday night traffic and got to the gallery at about a quarter after 7 p.m., which gave us only 15 minutes to set up. People were already arriving, and there were some gallery customers loitering around, which made things a little hectic and confusing, but we managed to get things set up quickly.

Laura helping set up

We set our table with red pepper hummus and spicy flatbread, a tray of four kinds of sliced cheese and multigrain crackers, stuffed grape leaves and giant green olives stuffed with garlic, guacamole and tortilla chips, and large black seedless grapes. For drinks we had soda and pomegranate blueberry juice. We set out our donation jars at the head of the table, along with short descriptions of each.

Party at Lyons Wier

We cut the music and started our meeting at about 8:45 pm, but people kept trickling in throughout the night. I introduced myself and Buck and we talked a bit about Open Love NY’s reason for being and mission to plan more social events for the polyamorous community of New York. I thanked the gallery owner and our volunteers (which should have included a shout to Laura, who was so helpful the whole day) and we went around the room to introduce ourselves. I had a few more remarks about the survey and then we started the birthday celebration by clearing space at the table for Polina to sit.

While Barbara prepared the candles on the cake, I gave a short speech about Polina and how this event came about because I wanted to do something for her birthday while also helping get OLNY off the ground (something we both were eager to have happen). I talked about how we came from such different backgrounds, and yet managed to find each other through the polyamorous community, and how our community is organized around the idea that we should be free to love openly and honestly.

Speaking from the heart

Barbara brought out the cake, which I had customized with the infinity heart symbol of polyamory (like the pendant I gave her for our anniversary) in purple to match her hair:

Poly birthday cake

The party continued until about 11 p.m., with some people still arriving in the last hour to say hello and happy birthday. We had about 24 people show up altogether, which was very good considering the crappy weather in the city that night. There were lots of old friends, newbies, longtime polys and group hugs all around. It was lots of fun playing hostess, although I did run out of gas a bit near the end and had to take a break or two.


Polina, Laura and I packed everything into Yoshi around midnight and went home to put everything away, have some tea and we watched Chicago on my big screen before going to bed. All in all, it was a very successful event, and I'm proud of our effort in putting it on and seeing it through. Hopefully it will have the desired effect in getting OLNY jump-started - there was already talk about planning a holiday party as our event was winding down.