I suppose I should have known that I wasn’t in the right place, that I didn’t have my head in order, because for a minute or two, I was almost loathe to go to Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago. There are only two things that could keep me from practically rubbing my hands together and jumping around gleefully about going and one of them is a shoe sale and one of them is a boy, and you know I haven’t bought a pair of shoes in a while, because God knows, I would have told you.
“You haven’t kissed him yet?”
“I’m trying something new. And I also only brought two pairs of shoes this weekend.”
"Jesus. You are trying something new, aren’t you?”
But let’s prioritize, shall we? Let’s get our books in order, our ducks in a row; let’s do this thing right. Which is what I did, because, honestly? When did I get stupid? (Don’t answer that.) It’s bloody Weetapie! It’s the party of the year! It’s enough that I remembered that Weet - sweet, sweet, Weet - would be picking me up at the airport, and in short order, depositing me into the arms of people who take care of me in the worst of times, pump their fist in the best of times, and threaten to punch me in the face when I’m afraid to strut like I own the room.
“Mare, work it because we’re having a muthafuckin’ walk-off, GO!”
God, it hurt to breathe that frigid Wisconsin air. And God knows, our feet could have been toastier as we rode through the woods on those giant sleighs, and maybe our arteries are a little more clogged than they should be, and hell if our livers couldn't do with a good rinse... but that's not the stuff that matters, you know? That I slipped, banged my shin, and in grand Con tradition received an ugly-as-sin haematoma is nothing but a good story with a lot of exclamation marks, because honestly, how bad can it be when there’s a gorgeous Thumper around to catch you if you fall? Y’know? How bad can it be if there’s a giant fire that’s been lit so that you can stand around and tell dirty jokes and flirt with your gorgeous friends and smoke and laugh and generally be warmed by the kind of hilarity that only happens when everyone is on the same, filthy wave-length?
“Pussy play ping-pong!”
And maybe, a couple of months ago, just for fun, you took a class that wasn’t about public speaking but was certainly about oral skills. And maybe, these funny, fabulous characters that you’re sitting with make you feel so comfortable that you feel like you can just let loose with them. And suddenly, you’ve launched into a tutorial that includes sticking your tongue out and moving your head like a chicken, and together your helpless giggles mix with those of your friends, and these ridiculous, ridiculous moments will forever be remembered by the sound of camaraderie and laughter, along with the taste of pineapple fluff and the odd feeling that you’ve known these people since the day you were born. And in a way, you kind of have.
“Oh, Jaysus. You didn’t just film that, did you!?”
So. Look. There are days when we feel good, and there are days when we can't stand to look in the mirror, and maybe it's because I only brought two pairs of shoes for four days and how the hell did I think I could function on that, because I obviously get my power from my footwear, but dear God one doesn't like to feel crippled by insecurity all weekend long because because because... because it gets damn annoying. How long does it take to get out of a hotel room?
Right. Except. Except and however... how on EARTH could I possibly feel anything but stellar when I was sitting in Weet's living room, sipping at Very Good Scotch, and surrounded by some truly marvellous people? Hm? Where I was so comfortable, I actually sang dear God I sang sang sang a song, out loud, for people to hear. Out loud. Not in a shower. In public, where people could hear me.
"I'm gonna live forever..."
And you know, when it's two in the morning, and maybe you're a little marinated, and maybe you're trying to put yourself to bed without, you know, falling out of it, and there's a knock at the door, and a team, an army, a bloody great phalanx of giant, open hearts are standing there, because, what the hell, right? Let's say hi to Mare, you know? And honestly, how uncomfortable can you feel around these gorgeous people littered around your room in the middle of the night, when you're so at ease around them that when the drunken stream of consciousness conversation rolls around to weight, (How? Why?) you sit there, proudly, in your pink pyjamas decorated with be-Speedo’d musclemen, and actually spill the national secret that is the number on your scale. That you will hold your head in shame the next morning, not believing that you were actually able to form the words with your own mouth, and say them out loud, with other people in the room, will only make it all the more special… once your headache clears. And you will remember that you laughed, even if you don’t remember what you laughed at, and you will remember to add a few more places to your list of places to go visit, because there are some Mighty Good Fine People there.
Wait...wait a second... I'm coming... oh dear, where's the door? Hi! Wait, I'm coming... please don't let me be naked... Hi!"
And then there is dancing. Above the crowd, clear-headed and full of rhythm and bounce. You will suddenly have in your power the ability to smile brightly and flirt with all the boys and feel sparkly and bright. Every unexplained moment of insecurity will be gone, swept away by angels who won't let it be there. You will look out over the crowd and remember that the day before, you were attacked by four girls in a restaurant, which made you light-headed with euphoria, because months had passed since the last time you saw them, and the conversation started as if there was nothing but a five minute break in between. You will remember browsing through magazine racks with a boy who understands that at heart, you’re nothing but a girl who wants to look nice, and you’re just trying to fake it through. You will gaze at your hostesses and marvel and how happy they’ve made everyone, even while they are dealing with the sudden onslaught of life's surprises.
And then you will close your eyes, feel the rhythm of the night in your feet, and keep dancing.
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