There is something that it is like to be a twenty-five year old woman living in an urban area. Let me tell you about it.
It is a Saturday night in Chicago and the invite is for a going-away party but she does not know the hosts. These parties are meant to include the slight-strangers, the nearly-friends, the through-a-thread-of-connections acquaintances. She arrives, walking down an alarmingly quiet street. A beer bottle drops, a man opens his trunk, a restaurant stays open till midnight. It is 11:30pm on a Saturday and she is walking alone to an unknown destination. Alas, finally…the door with the corresponding numbers appears. Two doorbells, and which to ring? Both, of course, because what else is a girl to do? No answer. Was all this walking, this potential adventuring, in vein? At last, a man appears. His beard and glasses compliment the ensemble of his melodic French accent. The woman says, “Oh, hello! A friend invited me here.” The man welcomes her and lets her in. She gets halfway up the staircase and he stops her, asking that horrible imploring question that no almost-party-crasher wants to hear, “Oh, yeah, who do you know here?” He lists off three names. Stunned, she guesses the last name with feigned confidence. “Oh, well that is me!” He says, so cleverly. Oh, no! A prisoner in the intended party-crashing host’s home! Alas, he lets her go. Her charm gets her by.
At first, she is alone wandering into a stranger’s home. She knows no one, they do not know her. A woman tells her to “Make herself at home”, and so she does. She takes off her coat, plops it on a chair, grabs a Raison D’Etre from her purse and…cannot find a bottle opener. She borrows one from a boy who seems to scrutinize her every movement, suspicious of her intentions. The bottle cap bends instead of popping off, and then…yes, it opens. Aha! So, here she is…
She has to explore. That is tip number one to being a contagious energy at a party that you just might be crashing. She goes outside. A small group of people sit on random re-purposed furniture parts. She joins. A man recognizes her and exclaims her name. Oh, dear. Her mind whirls. She cannot place the face. Oh, what could be worse than crashing a party lest to not recognize the one person who might know you while you’re there? What’s worse, is that he calls her on it. “You even said that you must repeat a person’s name three times in order to remember it.” He turns away and a ferocious, fiery dame stands up, “I admire your honesty!” A partner in crime, she is not alone! She sits down, she joins in. Small talk, overhearing the conversations of others and interjecting small encouraging words when appropriate. That’s how you bridge a group of people together, and that’s what people want…because everyone wants to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. a part of a community. And to let that happen just by celebrating the existence of scholarly individuality, well…that’s a thing of magic.
Rooms change, music plays, fabrics from dancing bodies create a mirage of cinematic mystery, and social spaces acquiesce to the presence of new guests, allowing new dialogues to emerge. All is celebrated, all is commendable, because in the end every young person wants to feel like they are in a champagne, crimson-colored dream, lost and safe…at least every once in awhile.
Conversations fill the space with exchanges of enthusiasm that perpetuate the youthful spark of hope that can generate a chain reaction strong enough to break the cycle of perpetual cynicism that plagues the most gifted intelligences. Is it meaningful? Is it worthwhile? So many would say that because this occasion is lofty, it is irresponsible and that perhaps it is not the best way to operate or to encourage “productivity.” However, for a young person this sense of belonging and this sense of communal encouragement is essential. We must cheer each other on, clap at our outrageous outfits and admire one another for having “good ideas” displayed in something as silly as the perk of a bow tie angled slightly asymmetrically.
But you realize eventually that there is something that you are telling yourself, something you are perpetuating that is mostly an elaborate fiction. I become this exclamation-point window of a person who is a certain way. She chuckles slightly, she chooses her movements very deliberately and dances her way through a crowd while she weaves her way through to a seemingly very deliberate destination. Yes, this woman is real, but she is exaggerated. It is exaggerated for the purposes of play, of having fun, of seeing how far one can go with self-expression. And in the end, though, in this body…this breathing, thinking, sweating, moving body with eyes that see outwardly…that framework, that stable ground, is always there. And when I look into the eyes of another human, being…there is this sense of looking deeply into an ocean of oneness. Like a piano playing different cords, each of us resonates to a different frequency from the same source…like water from the same source.