It had been a long week at work and I was tired. My new coworkers and I had been working long hours that week and we were over it. At the end of every day this week I had been exhausted and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. Something you should know about me is that I’m a huge planner. I love to plan, I can’t function without my Outlook calendar, and I’m not known for my spontaneity. However, Friday at 3:30 was a bright and sunny beautiful spring day.
I don’t know if it was the amount of coffee I’d had that day or the prospect of a weekend with no obligations and no plans in front of me, but when our boss announced he was letting us out early for all the hours we’d put in over the last two weeks, I was struck by a mischievous mood. The need to be on a rooftop bar was suddenly all I could think about. I knew what I had to do.
“Hey,” I turned to the 22-year-olds who sat next to me. “Do you guys want to hit up happy hour?”
Their little eyes lit up at the prospect of alcohol with “adult” coworkers just like real professionals. Oh, you guys didn’t hear? I’m an “adult” to my bright eyed and bushy tailed coworkers.
That was all it took. Once the kids were in, I had momentum. I slowly started making my way around to the other people in the office, letting them know that “a bunch of us” were getting drinks and that they should join. Well, if everyone else on the team is going out it looks bad if you don’t, so gradually I convinced the people my age and the 30-somethings.
Fast forward to three hours later and I had gotten everyone drunk doing celebratory shots (unclear what we were celebrating) and we had bonded significantly as a team. We met significant others, shared work gossip, and discovered that we genuinely liked each other. Really, management should thank me. You can’t buy this kind of bonding with ropes courses and trust falls.
I had invited one of my old work friends who was in the same field so he could network and he ended up getting along swimmingly with everyone. We started catching up on old times, he invited his girlfriend who I think is hilarious, and everyone else started trickling out.
“Hey,” my friend said with a slightly drunk twinkle in his eye. “I have some friends out at the W. We should go meet them there. You’d like them, lots of Brads.”
The W in D.C. has a rooftop bar that has spectacular views of the entire city, monuments and White House included. It’s very expensive and it can be crowded, so it’s a once in a while type of bar. My friend and his girlfriend are also the best kind of garbage people and are well aware of my proclivity for Brads, so the prospect of a fancy evening with attractive men appealed heavily to me.
On our way into D.C., we had the brilliant idea to call one of our other mutual degenerate friends that we don’t see very often to meet us. We dialed him on speakerphone in the Uber as we drove down Constitution Ave past the Washington Monument, just as twilight set in and the lights were twinkling on. The conversation that followed was crude, filled with profanity and sexual connotations, and completely horrified our sweet Uber driver who was clearly a suburban mother of four. After much cajoling, threatening, and bribery, we got him to agree to meet us.
The four of us made it to the rooftop of the W, looking out over one of the most beautiful skylines in the world, drinking expensive martinis, and taking it all in. We shared old war stories, told horribly offensive jokes, and laughed at the pomposity of it all. It was one of those moments that you can’t plan or manufacture with people you genuinely enjoy but don’t see that often and connect with on a deeper level.
Just as my buddy’s girlfriend started to feel sick from too many shots, Betty drunk dialed me to demand that I join her and her husband for a nightcap in a neighborhood nowhere near where I was. Did I let logistics stop me? On a normal night, I probably would have, but that night? Hell no. I ascertained that our friend who we peer pressured into meeting us was still sober and had driven there and I wasted no time in demanding that he drive me to the next bar.
We drove down 14th St with the windows down, sunroof open, city whizzing past, and jamming out to a killer rap playlist that we sang along to badly. With my arm out the window tapping to the beat, wind in my hair, and iconic scenery at every turn, I was struck with another rare moment of introspection that reminded how much I love this city and how lucky I am to be here with such a fantastic group of friends.
We arrived at the bar and I rushed in with a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm. Betty and her husband were there along with another of our couple friends that I absolutely love. We rarely all get to hang out together so it was a special occasion. We ordered Orange Crushes, ate crabcakes, talked about life, and planned for the future (mostly I forbade them from having kids for at least three years, preferably five). I think at some point Betty and I even gave our other friend a motivational speech to convince her to take a leap that she’s been thinking about in her career. Once Betty started scaling her husband like a jungle gym, we all decided it was time to head for home. To complete my lucky evening, I caught an UberPool home for $5 with no other passengers.
It was a magical night. It was something I could never have planned out even if I had tried. It was the perfect mix of different friend groups with my favorite people, memorable locations, great conversation, serendipitous timing, and just the right mood. Those kinds of nights don’t happen often when things are usually planned out to the minute and we all have such busy full lives.
It can be hard to make time for each other as we get older and have more and more responsibility. However, there’s something special and magical in the unplanned potential of a totally free Friday night that can’t be taken for granted. The next time you’re facing a weekend with no real plans and someone presents you with an opportunity, take them up on it no matter how tired or busy you are. You never know when a perfectly ordinary night could turn into one for the ages. Suck it up, say yes, order a round, and see where the night takes you. .