Twelve hour roundtrip for a twenty hour visit (seven of which would be spent sleeping). Would it be worth it? I work full time, am raising (okay, taxiing) three teenagers. Pairs of clean underwear currently available: 5. Pairs of clean underwear with functioning elasticity currently available: 2. Weekends, I thought (and I used to be a person who took a disco nap from 7-9 before she got ready to head out for the night — for the TUESDAY night and all the nights after that), are for grocery shopping, vacuuming, grooming pets. Should they also be for these journeys that begin in a pre-dawn darkness and weave through highways no more picturesque than the backsides of strip malls? I never ask these questions for all the moments of tragedy in my life. The sickness, bad luck, deaths, that summon me at odd hours and from long distances. Why, then, should I wonder if it’s worth it to embark when, instead, a celebration beckons?
The answer is: I don’t know, but I’m not going to wonder anymore. This disco queen is hitting the road.
My future journeys towards confetti, champagne toasts, hugs, and the offer of a floor space to blow up my air mattress will forever be fueled by this weekend when I travelled to Auburn, New York, for my amazing friend Sarah Yaw’s book launch. It was raining. My book on tape wasn’t exactly engrossing, and all I found channel-surfing was Christian rock (which, in my semi-dream state, I mistook for some cool indie band discovery). When you turn onto a highway as ugly as the Mass Pike and the GPS tells you to proceed 147 miles, you re-consider why vacuuming away a Saturday is such a bad idea, but then you turn onto a street whose name you have scrawled on Christmas cards or postcards and you think: one of my true loves lives here! It’s a Cinderella’s castle kind of moment. It is leaving the black and white backdrop of Kansas and being plunged into technicolor Oz. Sarah under the carport, Rebecca (a water spirit) coming out into the rain of the driveway, Brenda inside in a wolf costume chasing a 5 year old Batman, these people I love and miss most of the days of my life, and a gathering of people whose names I’ve heard, characters stepping out of a storybook into real life. There is coffee, bagels, the last minute details of planning a night in which a friend reads from a novel that took her ten years to finish and you get to sit in the front row. How many hours, how many miles, should ever keep us away from scenes like this?
We had fun at discos. We wore high heels, which, combined with our 80’s hairdo’s, made us all seven or eight inches taller. We danced to I Can’t Wait, Crush on You, anything the DJ played. September’s had Nickel Night, which inspired a great historic moment in my life when my cousin Sue said, “I’ve always wanted to do this,” then stood up and announced, “The next round’s on me!” She, my stunningly blonde friend Karyn, and I perfected the Fuck You look to get ourselves through hordes of party-goers without being hassled so we could get to the bar and order Peenie Weenie Woo Woos. We ended our nights at IHOP, and the next night? We hit REPEAT. Okay, so we weren’t mothers, we had jobs but we weren’t going anywhere in them, I vacuumed the living room every Saturday when I finally rolled out of bed, and my mother is, among other things, a devoted laundress who folded my underwear into towers that would have impressed her C.O., but the point is: we revelled in one another no matter how late the night, how long the drive, how early we had to be up to sling breakfast at a beach dive or dress the mannequins in the Weathervane clothing store’s display case. Of course, Sue, Karyn and I also lived a few miles away from one another, a luxury I am not sure we were grateful enough for. That, especially, and most glaringly, is the difference between our lives now and then.
But let’s face it, there’s little we can do about the way geography separates us except this: get up early and get on our way.