Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chasing a feeling

There was this one night... it was the summer I turned 21. My friend Mal was having her summer birthday just a few weeks after mine, and we were going out dancing to celebrate. Mal was younger than me by a couple of years, but that didn't matter, because we were going to the Black Cat and it was Mousetrap night!

Mousetrap, you see, was the place to dance if you were an indie scenester in the early 2000's. Back then you called them "scenesters," not "hipsters," and though we all rolled our eyes when uttering the phrase in someone's general direction, it was an affectionate eyeroll. Of course, those were (barely) still the days when emo was still a semi-respectable genre of music to stake your claim on.

WHOOPS!!! **Nostalgia alert!** Back to the story...

So anyway, we were at Mousetrap for Mal's birthday. It was me, Mal, my gay friend Rick and his way older boyfriend, some random friends of Mal's and my brother JC. Come to think of it, me and the way-older boyfriend were the only ones over 21.

We get up in the club and we're pumped, dancing to all the latest Belle and Sebastian mixed with some Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Hot skinny boys with moppish hair and cute girls in threadbare t-shirts and bangs are packed to the hilt. I get myself a gin and tonic, which I had settled on as my favorite adult beverage just weeks earlier at my 21st birthday party. We were too young (or old) to care about getting wasted. We just wanted to punch the air with our fists, spin ourselves in circles and dance like young white kids who didn't give a damn.

That's when I made my fatal mistake: I handed my drink over to my brother. It was packed and I probably needed to peel off a layer of plaid or something. Who can recall. Next thing I know, though, the portly dude dancing to the left of me has me by the scruff of my neck and is steering me toward the exit. I turn and see that he's got my brother and Rick (simultaneously) by the other hand. Suddenly, we're standing on the sidewalk on 14th St. in the hot summer air.

What I remember next is this: Rick freaked out about how to let his (much-too-old) boyfriend know we were kicked out, and how to do so without completely looking like a jackass. I freaked out because it was Mal's birthday and her friends (and ride) were stuck outside. Eventually we all reunited, and we ended up at Amphora's dinner back in Herndon, laughing and drinking milkshakes with our grilled cheese sandwiches. (I hadn't met T yet, so I didn't drink coffee yet either.)

Why am I writing about this?

I guess because I was thinking about it this afternoon as I was walking home on this perfectly crisp, dry, blue summer day. I was thinking about how there are so many times in life that you find yourself chasing a feeling, nagged by the sensation that you're supposed to be living things in a certain way if you can just figure out how. And then there are times when everything feels just right, like all the pieces are in place exactly how they're supposed to be, and all you have to do is soak in the feeling. That night at Mousetrap was one of those nights. Being out on the town with my friends, getting kicked out of the club just as my favorite New Order song comes on, kicked out before the night has even begun... and none of it mattering because all my friends are right there with me and it's one of the shortest nights of the year so we just gotta make the most of it.

There are times in my life that feel just the opposite. The nights when I find myself standing in a club at 1 in the morning, gin and tonic in hand, watching people get freaky on a dance floor, wondering why I am out this late at night when I would rather be sleeping or sitting around a table playing board games with friends. It's the difference between the times when I am stretched out in the stiffling summer heat on a bare bed, too hot for covers, listening to country music on the tinny clock radio with T, both of us just listening, quietly, together; versus the times when we get all dressed up and go to dinner only to realize we've hardly connected for weeks, and all we want to do is cook together and hear about each others' days.

Sometimes life is exactly the way I imagine it should be. Other times, I find myself chasing that feeling, that ghost itch of a phantom limb. These days, I'm not sure where I'm supposed to be. I'm not sure how to imagine my perfect 29th year. And I'm not sure how to chase it.

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