It turns out, there are a lot of variations of congregate meaning “to get together, join together, group together, party hearty.”
With some fish, it also means collaboration to make baby fish. Or is that conjugation? But there is no singular — at least none I can find — that means “someone who congregates.” No congregator. Congregationalist? Congregationistic? Congruent?
Way back when, in the days when I had energy, enthusiasm, and I liked most people, I was much more enthusiastic about “getting together.” I was considered sociable and I almost agreed with that.
I was never quite as sociable many thought. I was a party “edge person.” I would look for whoever was standing along at the edges of a party and engage them in conversation. I never like big groups of people in one place because you couldn’t have a conversation with anyone when everyone was trying to talk.
I made exceptions when I gave the party because if it was my party, I didn’t expect to engage in conversation. Party giving was more about flitting about and making sure everyone else was having a good time. I gave a few good parties through the decades (generations?), but mostly, I preferred having a friend or two or three — and a great conversation about everything.
Remember conversations that lasted until dawn? We covered philosophy, government, the meaning of life. Travel to the stars, reincarnation and the best books we’d read lately. No one was bored or left out.
Later, people got old. Died. Drifted into a world of their own, moved to senior housing “somewhere near their kids” which was always hundreds of miles from us. Others simply drifted.
What we had previously held in common — work — was no longer relevant after we all stopped working. Those of us who are married and still like our partners are lucky. Singleness is fine when you are active enough to travel and gadabout, but these days, it’s an abiding joy to have a partner whose hand you can hold while you watch old movies, cuddled by a dog with a cold nose.
We’ve been talking lately about how few friends we have remaining. This isn’t unusual at our age. People leave and don’t come back. Many others don’t like traveling. Or driving any distance. More don’t like going unfamiliar places. Everyone likes sleeping in his or her own bed. If you have pets, it gets hard to find someone to care for them, especially when your pets are old too.
We still have friends. Friends forever. They share memories of times through which we’ve lived and knew the same people. We have common political and philosophical beliefs.
So let us congregate to our greater enjoyment! Or try, anyhow.