I was at the best party on earth. I danced on the driftwood body of a phoenix the size of a jetliner. Its wings and talons rose out of the earth on either side and they were on fire. Flaming ten foot-tall iron talons. The best DJs on earth just at that moment were set up near the bird’s tail. The tail, also on fire. There must have been hundreds of us inside that bird. A girl in silver space shorts with hair the color of metallic tangerines danced on top of the DJ booth.
No one checked their ass in the mirror, checked to see who was coming in, checked the time. The stars were cold and high and they were getting down.
We gave ourselves to the music and I had to open my mouth so that I wouldn’t explode. I don’t care who you are, I was thinking. Everyone who has ever doubted me. Everyone I have ever known. You wish you were here right now. You wish.
Parties are ephemeral, not meant to be recalled later and written about, and everyone hates people who talk about Burning Man. But the fact of that night gets me through.
At a fancy Hollywood club, once, with aerialists hanging from the ceiling and a lot of beautiful people, a man tried to pull me to dance with him and all I could see was the circles of sweat at his armpits. The best moment, at that club, was the moment that the bouncer opened the velvet rope for me and my friends. The promise of it. But inside, everyone’s eyes held judgment. Are you important? Are you beautiful? It was a gauntlet to walk to the bar.
I apologize in advance to Harper. I am going to dance at weddings and bar mitzvahs and you will be so embarrassed. Mom, no one dances like that anymore.
On long nights when there somehow isn’t even time to watch an hour of tv, I think about going out dancing. That nerve ending still kicks, still longs for release, and jesus, what if it never happens again? What if I never go out ever again? So I lean against my memory of the phoenix. At least I did that. Just once, at least I was there.