I didn’t know I could dance.
All I had was water. Evian water bottle and mini cheeseburger from a silver tray.
We were in a night club in Vegas, and I wasn’t drinking.
I wanted to see who I was.
I had never been to a club sober. Never felt the electric air with clear eyes and an unclouded mind. I didn’t know how I felt, all parts of me, surrounded by music, smokey air, and crowds of people.
My early twenties were spent in bars. Clubs. Pubs. Holes in the wall. Drink in hand, friends at my hip. Wearing embarrassingly immodest clothes. Cheap, too high shoes.
To say I drank away my late teen years and early twenties would be an understatement. Truthfully, I don’t remember a lot of that time period. I was lost, floating from one thing to another, testing and trying anything I could find. I wanted to fit, and I didn’t know where I was supposed to be, didn’t know who I was supposed to be.
What I know now is I don’t fit. That my introvertedness and constant internal dialogue make squishing myself into most places hard. I thought this made me wrong. I thought this made me broken.
Alcohol made me less introverted. Alcohol made me feel like my weird, quiet, sarcastic, laughs-too-loud self fit into the spots I thought I needed to be.
I was too much and needed to be made less. More acceptable.
With alcohol I felt a false sense of belonging. It was magical in a way my real self wasn’t.
Everyone wants to be magical. I needed to be magical too.
A few weeks ago I found myself in Vegas with girlfriends. Because I know cool people, we were at a $150-a-ticket event with endless food and an open bar. We were above the city, sparkly and alive. Palm trees and plush couches in private rooms; beautiful rooftop pools and clear, sparkling skies.
I needed to see what I could be.
Things I feel inside–things I know now–that I didn’t know fifteen years ago: there is nothing that shuts off the constant storytelling that goes on in my head. The writing, the narrating, it won’t stop and I welcome it finally. I have stories to tell. Some I share and some I don’t. But I don’t want to drink them away anymore. I don’t want to quiet them.
I can dance for joy and happiness and excitement and not because shots have taken away my self-consciousness. I can admit I have bad thoughts about my thighs every day, still don’t know how to manage my hair, and think Chapstick counts as make up and those things are okay and I’ll dance anyway. I can dance because it sounds fun and not because I think it’s the only way to have fun.
That night at the club in Las Vegas was a test. I felt it coming. I knew it would arrive and I’d be offered a cheat, be able to forget who I was with an open bar and easy refills. But I wanted to be me, all of me, awkwardness and doubt, wide-eyed and full of laughter, mom belly and Kohls’ sweater, as real as possible. I wanted to feel everything and remember all of it.
I wanted to see if I could dance all by myself. I wanted to see if I could be okay with all the inside stuff being out and about. I wanted to see if I could dance.