I left the club early.  It had been a surreal, sober night.  I didn’t feel like having any conversations, and my attempts may not have been as smooth as I’d hoped.  Although I’d spent days making my own mask and fan for this evening masquerade, my heart wasn’t in it even before I’d arrived.  I was exhausted from too many late nights at home, laying in bed thinking or watching tv…just not wanting to sleep.  I can’t believe I was awake enough to go; I knew I’d need to leave early enough to be awake enough to drive home.

On my way out I passed a girl sitting on the stoop of the apartment building next to the club.  I’d seen her earlier hanging onto a parking meter, swaying drunkenly and looking abandoned.  She hadn’t been bothering anyone then; now she was just quietly crying.  She was pretty young, and I find myself using youth as an excuse for a lot of people’s behavior lately.  I sat down next to her and talked to her, went back inside and bought her a bottle of water.  I instructed her to drink the whole thing and keep an eye out for her friends before I left.  It made me feel like such a mom, even in my silly wig and corset.  I suddenly wished J wasn’t sleeping over his friend’s house and that I’d be going home to him in the apartment. 

I got home at 2:00, stripped off all my finery and got into the shower.  I took off my makeup with Vaseline, took out my braids and even managed to take out my contact lenses in there.  I threw on a cotton t-shirt that said “When Mom is happy, everyone’s happy” made myself a snack, and crawled under my down comforter.  It felt so good to feel so much myself again that I don’t think I’ll be going out dancing again anytime soon.  Maybe I’ve lost my enthusiasm for the pretty lights and music.  Or maybe I felt like I wasn’t myself there: that people’s words and looks were as flimsy as my paper fan, and that only stripped down in my plain and chubby form could I actually trust who I was and what others were seeing in me. 

I was tired the whole rest of the weekend and ended up with a terrible headache today.  I took a nap and woke up feeling much better this evening.  I wish I had another day to clean and decorate my house more, to go through my fall clothes and hang up my favorites, to go to bed with shaved legs in new clean sheets (which always reminds me of being a teenager).  But I’ll just do those things tomorrow.

(I wish I had a better ending.)