It feels as if I had lived another life sometimes. Today, a particular memory is resurfacing. Maybe it is because this is the first time that I’m all by myself since moving to Austin a few weeks ago. Maybe it is the weather; not a cloud in the sky and sunshine everywhere. In fact, maybe it was around this time last year that this particular memory of mine happened.
It was a nonchalant Sunday, one just like today. I was just settling in Grimalkin Institute, which would become my yearlong residence. (And, I am just now settling in my new apartment. History repeats itself, emotions along with it.) My roommate, Ann, asked me if I wanted to join her and Brian, my other roommate and her partner, to a dance party in the park. They were leaving in 30 minutes.
Dance party. In the park. During this perfectly beautiful Sunday afternoon. Um, of course!?
Not entirely sure what kind of event it would be but not having the time to think, I threw on a simple black tank-top and pulled on a loose dark brown skirt and slipped into my flip-flops. I tossed my phone, a book, a joint, and not much else in my purse. And I was out of the door with Ann and Brian.
I can’t remember what it was that I was reading on the way to the park, but I remember second-guessing my decision to go. Who would I have to talk to? Being ‘the only deaf one’ was still new to me. But because the alternative was to have a miserable time, I plunged into the book, into the present, and into myself.
The park was high up somewhere on a hill in Oakland. I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I saw quite literally made me gape. A huge clearing filled with people on blankets, people playing frisbee, people doing hula hoops. Over there at the cemented area with the water fountain, more people. People surrounding the fountain, dancing freely. Dancing with their eyes closed, limbs moving in every direction. Dancing while smiling. And oh, the best part. Two gigantic speakers stood tall beside the DJ who was spinning nothing but good vibes. The energy level was ridiculous.
Suddenly wishing to death that I had my girlfriends with me, I took a walk. I walked past all the people drinking their beer on their blankets and past the people moving wildly around the fountain. I needed a smoke. I walked up to the small waterfall where I had a high view of the park. Damn, this scene was straight out of a movie– it was the best outdoor daytime party I had ever seen.
I dug around in my purse and found that a lighter was not among the “not much else” that I had tossed in my purse. But just as I looked up to curse myself to the Universe, I saw two women around my age right in front of me, lighting up a cigarette. It was a party I was at after all. Somebody within ten feet of me was bound to carry a lighter. I strode over.
Fast forward through the “Got a lighter?” gesture and the routine explanation that I’m deaf, we were typing small talk on my phone back and forth and before I knew it, I was joining them back to their blanket. Perks of being by yourself: strangers are much more likely to make friends with you.
And friendly these strangers were! Beer was handed to me from the right, a tequila shot from the left. Yes and yes, please. Within fifteen minutes, my cheeks were heating up from the drinks and the sun, and I felt invincible and free. The girls that I came to the blanket with plus a few others and I got up, brushed the grass from our ass, and joined the dancing crowd on the hot cement floor.
That was when I drifted apart from my new friends, moving to the beat in a small way, slowly further away and away until I was among total strangers once again. I no longer needed the superficial company of people I had just met and would never see again. It was just me and the music, and that was all I needed at the moment.
It was a good DJ that day. Beats were on point. Closing my eyes, it was easy to be swept away in that summery buzz and haze. I let the music course through my body as if they were one. I was no longer alone. Each person there dancing with their eyes closed and I were feeling the music together. For the time being, I forgot my name or who I came with.
It’s one of my favorite days and the memory never fails to bring a small sense of peace and sunshine to my state of mind. It feels almost like a dream, from a time that I lived another life. Is it because I was the only one there and I have no other witnesses? Everyone else at that park is simply a prop in this story, in my memory. There is no one else in my life that can vouch for this day and how beautiful it was. Is that what makes it unreal to me?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?