I really love your hair, not many women can pull that off, she says.
I smile and thank her, my confidence slightly swelled by these few words from a stranger.
This ephemeral girl in her tattooed, retro-rockabilly splendour.
Here comes another, and yet another . . . incredulous, I feel a surge of pure joy at their words.
What the hell is going on here? These people don’t even know me.
Still, I shrink away as they reach out to touch the 1/2 inch buzz-cut, knowing it will fall in clumps if I don’t protect it from their curious, unwanted, prying fingers.
They look at me oddly as I pull back from their touch.
Please, I beg . . . don’t . . . and the magical moment becomes suddenly stale . . . awkward.
I smile again and walk away.
Just one last night is all I ask. One last night before I have to relinquish it all.
Exhilarated by the fact that I was able to drive a vehicle again, that I am out in public, that I am not yet ready to succumb.
Still reeling from this week’s toxic cocktail, the silent killers coursing through my veins, I am light-headed and somewhat afraid of the vertigo.
Standing at the bar, I ask for a refill and in an instant I find my courage . . . I have heard the siren signal.
I struggle to walk a straight line, reaching out to grasp a table edge, a chair, a strange body (‘scuse me, pardon me) I’m now slightly overdosed on cup after cup of ice water but I must walk that line . . . moving deliberately to an area I designate as dance floor.
No matter that my usual dance partner is currently occupied playing the bass, the Surfin’ Bird has beckoned me to gyrate.
I have never wanted anything more in my life than this dance.
Arms flapping, toes stompin’, lost in the Ooh mao mao, I take flight on the wings of the Birdogs.
Legs akimbo, flittin’ and flyin’, ain’t nothin’ better than these boots right now.
I am exhausted already, but adrenaline propels me . . . my lungs burning from this little exertion.
Still my heart soars, pumping and lurching as though it might burst.
I manage not to fall over as I dance with abandon, slip slidin’ . . . ain’t nothin’ better than these god-damned boots.
This impromptu solo performance illicits cheers and whistles and I feel good, finally, I feel alive again . . . my face a Cheshire grin.
Beautiful boys and their lovely companions compliment me.
You can dance, girl!
Do they know, do they know I am but a mere shell of my former self?
Have I passed beyond that inner sanctity into another realm?
Have I finally reached the unattainable, grown into some womanhood I could never quite fulfill in my past?
Hours later, as I rub a towel vigorously across my head, thousands of tiny hairs floating away into the midnight sky, I know I have arrived.