04 January 2007


From one year to another we dance without pause; a moment slips through our fingers in the flow of a forgettable song, unnoticed until the DJ tilts over the side of his booth with a microphone, allowing the music dip to announce that we are in 2007, adding that it is a new year, as if some of us need reminding.

Sunk in an amber somnolence of my own, embracing everyone without need of words, in a vast benevolent lethargy of well-wishing that smoothes out whatever has been harsh, some sealed vessel in my brain has swollen; before it bursts, everything around remains bright with colour and tinged with a strange delight. Swaying into the darkness beyond the dance floor, snatches of conversation distract, sparks flying up with their truths and lies. Past them, back against the wall, stands the man in a creased shirt whose broad muscular hands I noticed earlier; callow and raw they look, skin flushed pink as if pulled from an ice cold stream. He didn’t come here alone, but he makes it clear that he is alone and doesn’t intend to leave that way.

Breath comes slow and quiet standing at a near distance to him, and the air between us carries something, like a faint barely perceptible humming. Watching more than listening, easily hypnotised by eyes that seem to reflect all the room moving or the crowd passing without giving an inkling of any inner thought or emotion other than longing, at length the vibration from the music carries my attention back towards the dance floor, where another incomplete stranger, a younger man, is dancing among his friends. Someone tries to make him co-ordinate arms and legs like they do. He shouldn’t: it’s his goofy awkwardness and jilted flailing movement that attracts attention, and that’s what everyone in this room wants tonight, attention from someone.

Prompted to approach, despite my drunkenness I am aware that it will require something to say beyond the truth, which is that he’s too young for us to anything significant in common, and even if we did, I don’t find him physically attractive in any significant way... and yet I want to kiss him more than any other man in the room. That’s the truth- yes, it is the truth, for a moment- and I convince myself that it will be enough: whatever possesses me insists that the stranger will find something to charm in an approach so direct, and also directs my gaze to a quiet corner that we could discover together, where one of us might make a first move.

If I do approach him, there will be every chance of sustaining injury even if he doesn't throw a punch; if we do end up in that corner, it will be blundering, our heads will probably collide with every chance he’ll manage to shove an elbow into my ribs on more than one occasion. It will be unforgettably clumsy, and that will make a refreshing change... but that is not what happens, of course.

Careful in my movements, approaching at a deliberate pace until standing within easy reach, our shadows fall together. This is my declaration of interest.

At some point, all of this has been learned, along with all of the rules that indicate where to position oneself, how close to stand and how to stand, how long it is appropriate to stand before glancing over, all that is expected… although I am at a loss as to who taught me or when it all happened. While I wait, enjoying my own stillness, with most of the room still furtively twitching and shimmering like a shoal of fish moving within a net, it occurs to me that how I lean casually against the wall is anything but casual; it is an advertisement, a pose that is highly circumspect, yet I can no longer stand in any other way.

Another moment slips past without any notice: another opportunity is gone. No longer silent, for a conversation has started to flow. My own words are soft, amber and vaporous as the whisky on my breath, but I barely listen to myself; perhaps because I already know everything I am about to say, or perhaps because I am not really interested in what I am saying, or perhaps because I cannot bear to listen.

In a room full of balloons ready to burst, it suddenly feels my whole year has been composed of disjointed factions of time standing around in one place or hanging around in another, all the while having this same conversation, waiting on something or someone; half-expecting a train will come, half-knowing that no train worth taking passes through this station, and if it ever does, it won’t stop.

No comments: