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I was sitting at a table sandwiched between conversations about crown molding and the pros and cons of homeowners associations. I felt myself zoning out. I felt like a girl waiting to step into a game of Double Dutch jump rope, only there were no opportunities for me to join either conversation.

Then I remembered I’d recently heard a cork go “pop” and I excused myself to the kitchen. I found sparkling wine in an ice bucket next to a bottle of orange juice. I poured the wine into a plastic cup. No need to spoil it with citrus influences.

Vacations call for some rule-breaking. Nothing illegal, but I like to bend my own rules and indulge a little, so when I sat down for breakfast…

I returned to my seat and realized the conversations had merged and transitioned to hardwood flooring. I knew I was going to feel out of place at a baby shower since I don’t have kids or know anything about raising them, but I didn’t expect I’d be socially paralyzed in a conversation about home renovation. I took a hearty sip from my cup and settled in for a long afternoon.

I’m not very good at parties. I’m not a schmoozer. I don’t like crowds. I’m certainly no social butterfly. But this was my best friend Amie’s baby shower, and I wasn’t going to miss it. She and her husband had been trying for a baby for years, so this was an extra special occasion.

Knowing I wouldn’t know many people there, I strategized early on to sit next to a mutual friend from high school, but using my cell phone as a placeholder apparently wasn’t the best way to mark my territory. My bestie’s aunt took my intended seat and offered a snappy “you snooze you lose” response laden in British slang when I informed her I’d already claimed the seat. So much for that. Social purgatory it is!

I was pretty sure the women around me could smell the social awkwardness emanating from my silent presence, but I didn’t care. I looked around the room and saw Amie sitting on a couch, laughing with some friends. I was happy to see she was surrounded by people who love her and are so excited to share in the joy of her journey toward motherhood.

Unlike Amie, I don’t have a tribe of friends. I have a few close friends, and that’s all I need. However, cities separate me and my dearest friends, so most of my closest friends aren’t actually friends with each other, so I hang out with them one-on-one. The only time they’ve all been together under one roof was for my wedding reception five years ago, and even then, two of them weren’t able to attend.

Add this to the fact that I’m a raging introvert, and you get a perpetual wallflower.

I was content to stay in my own little world for the entirety of the party, but I was tapped to take notes during the gift opening. Suddenly I was going from silent and invisible to being thrust into photo range as I sat next to Amie as she opened a seemingly never-ending array of gifts.

I made sure to wear a constant smile as a catalogued an adorable barrage of baby items: a onesie with a fuzzy cat head on the chest, a set of pajamas covered in colorful kittens, a blanket with cats printed on it, followed by plush cats and more cat-themed onesies. Good thing everyone knows Amie loves cats. I sure hope this baby does, too.

I arrived in 1984 in a Prius driven by my best friend and fellow time traveler, Amie. As I gauged our surroundings and fluffed my hair trying …

“I hope she’s not allergic to cats,” I said so only Amie could hear.

“Do NOT say that,” she shot back with a glare and then we both laughed.

After the gift opening, the party started to wind down, and I went back to my wallflower ways, clearing up tables and keeping to myself – doing what I do best. I was feeling pretty good. I’d won the “Who knows Mummy best” game earlier in the afternoon which offered an explanation to any partygoer who may have wondered what the quiet girl was doing at the party.

Besides, I wasn’t worried about missing out on time with Amie at the party. We’d already planned an after party for just the two of us … and her cats.

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Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.

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Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.