Weekend Dreamers

In the brisk autumn air along the tourist strip, we sat outside the Champagne Bar celebrating Sarah’s thirty-something birthday-I found myself wondering if they’d given her a free bottle of champagne even though her birthday wasn’t until Sunday but I had never met a person who could refuse Sarah what she wanted-and as I sat a bit away from them counting time with the steady inhale exhale of cigarette smoke I watched the group slowly rotate from the put-together business colleagues to the sparkling danger of the glamorous underworld, and I thought about these people whose faces mirror my own and yet we are something apart from one another and I felt the depth of my own loneliness caught in the tide of bubbling flutes and extravagant attire-Sarah dressed in lingerie and a dog’s collar around her tender neck and her lover, his arm attached to her hip while her wife wandered through the crowd of coworkers and long-time friends-and I disappeared into the night to buy hair gel and cigarettes for a budding drag king, dressing him up and dusting his chin with a goatee clipped from the ends of his hair, soothing his nerves with stories while we drove and I deposited him, a week underage, to the local dive bar where I stood outside chainsmoking and talking to Allison-who it turns out doesn’t hate me after all-and vomited words into her unsuspecting ears, told her that I thought perhaps I was falling apart and there’s a boy across the state that lets me escape the monotony of life and school and I can run away and hide somewhere between his arms and his chest and lose myself inside his flesh and she smiled, far too knowingly, and told me to take care of myself and I wanted to ask her how she was doing but a traveling punk grabbed my arm and asked for a light then asked where I was sleeping and I offered them a ride home- someone told me later they wanted a ride to my home, maybe, or a quick moment behind the dumpster but I was too lost entrenched absorbed in myself to understand that someone wanted to lose themself in me-and then we danced, my partner and I and my brother and the traveling punk and Sarah, who finally made it to the club-we twisted ourselves around the poles and strained our muscles and the traveler told Sarah that their ass fit nicely into her crotch, and she laughed and gave the kid a kiss before we melted away into the darkness going home to a foam mat on the floor of a house that would be condemned if we would ever let the fire marshal inside; in the morning we drove west to Cullowhee and back again and I paced waiting for a 7 o’clock potluck that I was sure I was invited to out of propriety and not desire and I didn’t know what to bring to a punk potluck so I made homemade whipped cream and sliced some strawberries and hoped it was enough but when I got there a familiar face hovered just inside the door and their eyes lit up and they grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go for about 117 seconds-they kissed my whole face and my lips cracked into a smile and my starving heart gorged itself on the sight of their face and tattoos and half-shaved head and waist-length dreadlocks and pictures of pitbulls and memories of being drunk exhausted weary depressed ecstatic serious fierce beautiful, all the things I remember them to be and I realized that I was no longer lonely- I carved a place out in my heart for each one of their faces and held them all close while I cracked a beer and danced to bad pop music and tried vegetarian chili for the first time because they were in town and I wanted to stay so long as they wanted me there, plopped down on my lap and fingering the brass studs of a leather jacket and offering to be my mother and swapping stories about how they were thinking about kids but their partner couldn’t get them pregnant and I thought if Jesus was coming back at some point anyway, why not come through the womb of a fierce punk-rock radical lady who has no gender and I said as much and they laughed and pointed out there would be nothing immaculate about that conception and then we cracked up, thinking about sex and tenderness and we held each other for a minute as I kissed the top of their head and they buried themself in my chest and we didn’t speak for a minute, just sat locked together and I felt safe and warm like I could crawl inside the safety net they carried around and we knew that we could stand shoulder-to-shoulder and back-to-back but in that moment, we twined our limbs around each other and braced ourselves offering sanctuary and tenderness and somewhat besides-we held each other and they wrapped their arms around my flesh and brought me home into the folds of their heart and we took a shot of Jack for Chelsea and the warmth of the whiskey seeped down into my stomach and we screamed, all twelve of us, feral and uncaring as we raised our voices to the stars in frustration joy anger loss happiness family solidarity so that the silence that came just after held the memory of our separate voices fused together in the harmony that only comes at one AM.

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