I like getting ready to go out more than I actually like to go out. I enjoy the ritual. It’s almost relaxing, like the calm before the storm. Doing yourself up only to tear yourself down later in the night.
I was invited to a house party in Williamsburg last Friday night by a good friend of mine and I actually decided to go. Normally I would’ve declined and said, “I’m sorry. I have a date with my incense burner.” but I’ve been feeling pretty low lately and whenever I’m in an emotional funk, I promise myself that I’ll say yes to every invitation offered to me. I’ll go to house parties, bars, openings, whatever. I do this because I have this misguided hope that I’ll maybe have the best night of my life and feel okay again. Maybe I’ll make out with someone who smells like whiskey on a couch in a room full of people, or maybe I’ll just find a new friend and have an amazing conversation over some lukewarm drinks. Whatever. The point is that it could change my life in some small way and I have to remind myself that it’s important to be an active participant rather than a casual observer. So, yes, I’ll go to the stupid house party with you on North 7th and Berry. Why not? It might save my life!
To get ready, I put on a playlist called “dance y’know like whatever” and sipped gingerly from a glass of wine. I changed outfits probably six times, assessing which outfit made my body look most desirable, and ran wax through my hair to sweep it back. “Your hair looks better when it’s swept back.” I decided that I wanted to look dirty so I settled on wearing a filthy Sonic Youth t shirt, Doc Martens, black jeans, and a black hoodie. I’m pretty sure I just looked sloppy instead of “dirty alternative gay” but I didn’t have time to change into another outfit. I left without finishing my wine.
I walked to the L train on 1st Avenue and found myself, as per usual, surrounded by annoying drunk people on a Friday night. Ever have trouble quitting alcohol? Just go to downtown Manhattan on a weekend night and you’ll lose the desire to drink again. Consider it the new kind of AA. Everyone behaves like animals, except worse because they’re in unflattering outfits and you can see some of yourself in them. We’ve all been that annoying drunk person in the Lower East Side eating pizza at 4am but seeing it reflected back to you when you’re sober is the ultimate reality check.
When I got on the subway, I looked at all of the young, attractive people on the train and suddenly became overwhelmed with the sense that this was THE snapshot of my young adult life: Traveling to Bedford on a Friday night to some unknown party while being surrounded by people who look and act just like me. I don’t know why but the mere thought of this knocked the wind out of me. Is this all there is to being young? Changing outfits, putting on the right playlist, traveling to the same neighborhood for the possibility of finding something worthwhile? No, this can’t be it. There has to be something more, something I’m not quite seeing.
I waited for my friend for twenty minutes on the corner of North 7h and Berry and watched all of the wasted Swedish models with androgynous haircuts and American hipsters pass me by. I was having one of those moments when you know you’re being over emotional and ridiculous. You’re trying to find significance in meaningless things. “That crack in the sidewalk is like a symbol of my wasted youth. That pizza is a symbol of my broken dreams.” But it’s real! Sometimes you just got to go there and be That Guy Who Is Having An Existential Crisis On The L Train. You have to see everything in muted colors in order to recognize brightness again.
In any event, I went to the party and it didn’t change my life. I sat on a couch in the living room of some stranger’s apartment and listened to bad remixes while catching up with my friend. There was no new best friend, no whiskey make outs. Just another weird house party where you don’t know anyone so you just cling to the one person you do know. Afterwards, I ate ice cream on a bench and took a cab home.
You always wake up feeling foolish the next day. Why did you feel so sad last night? Why did you even go to that party? But by the time the sun goes down, you’ll stop asking yourself these questions and be ready to do it all over again. You’ll always be ready to do it all over again.