I remember this one New Year's Eve I spent in Atlanta. I had given my boyfriend a pair of beautiful leather gloves for Christmas, and he nonchalantly told me he had already lost them as we were leaving to go out. I must have looked disappointed; I'm sure I did. I'm sure my face fell, and I'm sure I remarked on it, but I don't remember what I said. I remember him screaming at me in the hallway of our apartment building, about how I shouldn't have given him something he'd lose. He said I should have known better than to give him gloves. And I remember how I cried my eyeliner off, thinking about how the neighbors could hear every word. How we were planning on taking the train downtown, since he was already half a bottle in. All we could do together was drink. I drank to deal with his drinking. I drank to keep myself from yelling back. Now, I don't think I could yell back. Not if my life depended on it. All the yelling is gone out of me.
I went back inside and fixed my eyeliner. I was wearing a sheer purple shift over black leggings and black knee-high boots. On the train, we took selfies and posted them on Instagram, and we looked like the perfect couple out for a night on the town.
We went to see Jana Molina in Five Points, on this outdoor stage, and there were all these people, and food carts, and drink carts. It's not too cold in Atlanta in January. You don't need a coat. I had on bold pink lipstick and sequined hair accessories. At midnight in Atlanta, they drop a giant peach.
This, here, is the important part of the story: at the end of her set, the band just let loose with some old, old jazz. And I began to dance. Now, if you haven't known me long, you won't know this, but I can fucking dance. So I danced. I danced the Charleston, and another woman joined me, and soon, there was a space cleared all around us with people cheering, and I couldn't breathe anymore, but I kept dancing anyway. I never did get that lady's name. But we just kept dancing and dancing with the people all around us beating the rhythm into the sidewalk for us, and I knew as long as I was dancing, nothing could hurt me. I still remember that New Year's Eve as one of my favorites, because I love Atlanta, and because of the dancing. It's the trumpets, I remember. And my aching thighs. How the one thing I knew for sure was that I could dance harder than I could cry, so that meant I had to be alright.