Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Life-affirming moments are tricky things. The media tells us that self-actualization comes in the form of eat/pray/love fantasies. Over the top journeys that leave us changed forever. But sometimes, just sometimes those epiphanies are much closer to home. Buried within in the banal. Camoflaged in the form of a white middle-aged couple, drunk with the wine of the world, and loving every minute of it.
There’s a cliche made popular by some song or bumper sticker or whatever that says, “dance like no one’s watching.” And while I generally do, much to the chagrin of my friends, I had never seen that trite t-shirt slogan embodied like I did at a recent outdoor festival.
Initially, I thought there’d be trouble. You can never tell with drunk people. Especially white folks. It could go either way. So during the introductory crap before the music, there were some oddly timed non-sequitur hoots and hollers from a, clearly drunken, middle aged couple in the crowd. For example, the emcee would say, “are you ready to party!!!” and they would respond “OBAMA!!!!!” You get the drift. The man wore a big straw hat, army green cargo shorts, polo shirt and, of course, sandals and socks. His companion was rosy cheeked and Chico’s-clad with mussed meg ryan hair and that “I love the World” look mostly sported by hippies or people rolling on E. (Ahem) Or so I’ve heard.
As my great grandmother would say, it was clear they had had a few “smiles” before coming out and ultimately i lost track of them and forgot about their shenanigans.
However, as the music started and the party began. I thought more about them. God bless ‘em. I applauded them for not being stuck in some McMansion in the burbs watching Antiques Roadshow. Secretly, i hoped that i too could one day be out with my significant other in my late fifties, hooting at hip hop deejays. But it wasn’t until about an hour into the show, that this older, white, joyously drunken, couple moved my soul.
The crowd was being entertained by one of the hottest deejays in the world. I ultimately forgot about the couple and became lost in the mix of hot energy and air generated from bodies who couldnt help but move to the rhythm. Even me, four weeks after foot surgery, managed to get a mean two-step in.
But, suddenly, like an old John Hughes movie, I look up and who did I spot in the crowd so tight you could barely tell where one body ended and the next body began… It was them. The world went into slow motion, and like an old film noir, the place became dark except for a single spotlight on none other than that drunk white couple. There they were, still there. Braving the Youngs and the Slows and the Normals and the Tourists and those hip-hoppers who always dance too wild to stand next to. Who would’ve thunk that the other pair of eyes in my oft dreamed about “our-eyes-met-across-the-room” fantasy, would be those of a middle-aged drunk white couple. But there it was.
Through all the writhing bodies, there they were. Dancing. Their. Drunk. White. Asses. Off.
At that moment i felt like i was seeing what a life well lived look like. I was acutely, divinely aware, like that Henry Miller quote. They danced off beat like they owned the place. They looked at each other and smiled, and occasionally helped to keep the other from stumbling. They were so happy and their faces reminded me what real happiness looked like. A happiness that has become all too fleeting as we concentrate on whatever successes we’ve chosen to chase. Whatever was going on at the office or the house or with the kids, was long forgotten by this couple.
I realized how much I missed those moments in my own life. I realized that our so-called successes are often pyhrric victories. Too often the sacrifices we make in our lives in the name of success, leave us empty and unfulfilled.
Dont get me wrong, often we dont have the luxury of dancing like no one is watching. But when we forget what that even feels like, something is indeed amiss. As i watched this couple, I felt that hole in my soul. I missed those moments of living with drunken, joyous abandon. It doesn’t have to be drunk-dancing outside, it could be reading an author you love or getting together and laughing your ass off with an old friend, it could be Shakespeare in the Park, or going to see live music, a good ole one night stand, or just sitting on the fucking porch watching the world go by.
We try to fill those holes daily with Faceook and online shopping and cars and 1000% Indian hair weaves and big TV’s and 800 channels and God knows what. But soon we’ll all leave this earth and, God help us, if all we have to look back on is how hard we “grinded” or “hustled” or how many “likes” we got on some dumb ass status update.
Until that moment I hadn’t realized what i had been missing in my own life lately. I used to live for those moments before i got caught up in stuff and screens and The Grind. So i just want to personally thank those wonderfully inebriated white dancers, whoever you were, for reminding me.
Hope you got home safe.