My logic with birthday gatherings among mostly strangers is that one doesn't expect to hang with the birthday person in question, especially when everyone's drinking more than you are, but her friends were friendly thoughtful folk, I found some somewhat kindred souls to laugh and swap stories with who didn't mind my total soberness. That shared inner-ring suburban culture goes a long way toward breaking the ice. Somehow among the goodbyes, a conversation thread involving sundry doomy rock and or roll started and the time slipped away until there were two of us left leaning against my car as it got dewy and we realized that it was almost 4am and were starting to feel kind of cold.
The espresso in the cupcakes must have been sufficient to keep me awake though I thought I was getting tailed by a cop on the highway by how close he was following me but it turned out to be an impatient third shift rentacop. Came home, felt sick, couldn't sleep, slept in til noon, which never happens, too achy for softball, had dinner with the extended family and got wistful over my aunt's pictures of Paris, excused myself from political arguments in the living room to talk about gardening in the kitchen and be goofy with the little guy, coming home tired again and sleeping late. I can't do these late nights like I once did but the lag still feels worth it.