In the backyard, we’re seven people and nearly as many animals, at least as many distinctive sounds of laughter, like you could imagine that morning mockingbird above the tent mimicking the hoarse cackle, the feminine shrieky giggle, the deep-bellied baritone, the chest full of a laughter that could only be born from a flood. One that took everything but that laugh and your dog.
Like party is the opposite of pain. Like the only antidote for one is the other. Like laughter is the only thing between you and poverty. Like devastation can be kept away, a bad spirit with no place at your table when you start every dinner by thanking god and making each guest share their favorite part of the day, even — no, especially — if they hate that shit.
The party has to have food, and it has to have stories. It helps to have liquor. It also helps to have strangers. A lot of times, a stranger is the only way to see yourself. Not as a mirror, but as a police sketch.
“You must think we’re so strange!” and “Welcome to the South!”
When your party is so present, you become invincible. And maybe that’s the secret. You live long enough, and the party consumes you. Preserves you as it kills you. A lung turned black, a blackout turned sleep, a green zirconia angel watching over you, so you forget you bought it last night and start to believe it’s been taking care of you the whole time.
Maybe if you just keep the party going, you never have to worry who’s gonna clean up.
We sit on couches covered in dirt and dog hair, moist from humidity, and swap stories that are increasingly insistent, desiring osmosis into that frazzled atmosphere of laughter, nipple rubbing, dog hair in wine, and lingering eyes.
Does it matter if I was having a good time? No. Whose good time matters? Those who like to party. As if this is the one discrete time to act like anything or to tell that story.
Our demure quiet heightens the party in everyone else – to prove that we are shy, to prove that we are overwhelmed, to prove that we are different, to prove that they are different. That their space matters. That they’ve chosen this, and it is good. And we are uptight.
They read their insecurities onto me and I read mine onto them. This party that necessitates otherness. We all go to bed.
Some of us sit together in the morning. We do not talk about things that are so radically different. But it is no longer party time.