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Normally, if I go out alone, I perch on a stool, sip my drink and wait for someone to come up and talk to me. Last night at the bar started in the usual way… meeting Caroline, Brandy and their dates, watching novices attempt pool, scanning the crowd for the interesting details in the ordinary.
A bald biker wearing a black leather vest tattooed with patches transformed into Fred Astaire on the scuffed wooden dance floor, spinning and twirling a woman still in the professional pantsuit of her day job. Young college boys home for the Easter holiday huddled around the bar, enough out of their element that they moved in unison—like a school of mackerel—and maybe for the same reason. Two women with lined faces shared a cigarette, each taking a long drag with eyes half closed before passing it to the other.
And then it was closing time and I wasn’t ready to go home. Brandy knew of a place down the road that stayed open for another two hours. Caroline’s tumbler of sweet blue liquor had done it’s job. She was ready to go home and her boyfriend was happy to get her there, so we bid the two farewell. I climbed in my car and followed Brandy and her date into the night.
The second stop was pretty much a repeat of the first, except now Brandy had a new bestie (me). They me introduced to a group they knew and I was quickly embraced as the new fun girl. I do love meeting new people! Next thing I knew I’m connecting on a deep buzzed level with this girl named Ann who’s trying to keep her chin up because her kid is with his dad for the long weekend. So when closing time rolls around she naturally invites me to the after party. She piles in my car and we follow the group to a house in the woods. Cue the scary music. Just kidding.
There’s a huge metal fire pit in the backyard begging to be lit. So the men pile on the wood while the women mix drinks and pull up chairs. It took the addition of multiple flammable material to get the blaze going… lighter fluid, hair spray, rubbing alcohol. But once it caught, it gave warmth and light liberally. So there we sat, in the flickering light, talking, drinking and admiring the full moon.
I heard about bon fire parties thrown by teenagers in rural towns, but I missed out on that growing up. Getting to experience the essence of that, as an adult, with other people in their 30s was a treat, like getting to check something off my bucket list that I didn’t even know was on there. So when I rolled in my drive at 5:00 in the morning, reeking of wood smoke and delirious from lack of sleep I certainly wasn’t complaining.