Appreciating Laura

Afew months ago, I attended the Laura Isaacs Appreciation Barbecue. Laura's a coworker at the newspaper where I work. At 24, she lives with her cat, Spock, and loves Hello Kitty and ballerina flats.

I don't remember what was going on in Laura's life at the time—boyfriend problems, I think. The impromptu barbecue to celebrate Laura was fellow coworkers Cristy and Shemir's idea, and it took place at Cristy's apartment.

Cristy made about ten pounds of potato salad and enough hamburger patties to feed 25 people—even though only 8 from our workplace attended. Shemir was the only one of us who'd ever lit a barbecue fire before, so she did the honors. Cheri brought a cake she made using a Southern Living recipe, and someone else brought the High School Musical version of the board game Mystery Date. And I brought a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough to eat raw—because that's what you do at an appreciation barbecue for a friend who needs some appreciation.

I felt honored to be included in this circle of young women who are my daughters' ages. We played Mystery Date (Shemir won) and Apples to Apples. We laughed a lot and told Laura how much we appreciated her. Cristy even made a "Hooray Laura!" banner by stringing together individual letters cut from magazine pages.

After I left, the rest of the guests played music and danced until way past my 53-year-old body's bedtime.

Although I consider these young women work friends, I'd almost stayed home. Being more than twice their age, I hadn't thought I'd fit in at their party. But I wanted Laura to know I appreciate her, too, so I went, but hesitantly. The young women welcomed me as one of their own, letting me into their lives and asking to be a part of mine.

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