So here’s a story about connection on New Year’s Eve–hopefully you can bear with me to the end. So, on Thursday’s I usually work desk shift for the contact improvisation class in Berkeley and I get to take the class after my shift ends which is what I did. It was the first time I got to dance again in 2+ weeks since being sick and from being in Ohio for Xmas with my family. The class was nice bc there were only 6 of us so it was more intimate than our usual 15-20+. After class, people in the contact community are bringing in stuff for the jam like pillows, mattresses, and carpet–all of which intrigues me. It’s a special potluck dance and I second guess myself about whether I made the right decision about going into SF for country western this NYE?
Oh well, too late to change my mind as I have already paid my 30 bucks online for the dance in the City. I get myself dolled up: mustard knee-high cowboy boots by Frye, brown suede mini skirt with western embroidery for pockets by Chloe, to go with my boots a yellow shirt (um by Target), and last but not least, my Stetson straw cowboy hat that was a birthday present from my sister earlier this year. Check, check, and check–I’m good to go;-)
When I get on BART it’s crowded with NYE revelers and the drinking has already started–someone pops a cork on a champagne bottle while we are in transit and shouts out HNY! The mood and energy are high; people seem ready and willing to risk risky behavior with liquid courage flowing in abundance. I think to myself that I don’t want to be in a crowded train on the way home with a bunch of drunk people and have something bad happen to me or my beautiful vintage coat made of lamb suede and fur–vomit is a bitch to dry clean! I decide that I will head back before midnight and miss the crush of drunk and possibly disorderly masses.
At the dance, I see some people I know as it’s a community I have come to know over the last three years–it’s comforting and familiar. I get to dance with some of my favorite partners that are really good! I have not been doing much country western in 2015 as I have been devoting most of my time to contact this past year and I make a New Year’s resolution for 2016 to do more of this.
The floor at the Whitcomb Hotel is not great as it really doesn’t have much spring. After 2 hours, I can feel my lower back start to hurt; I think it’s time to call it. It’s 11:30 and I head on out into the chill. Not many people are about as most are where they want to be for the count down. I pat myself on the back thinking that my plan was a good one. At 12th St Center, I have to change trains for the Richmond line as I have parked at N Berkeley BART. There is an 11 minute wait and I am desperate to sit as I have now been on my feet for over 4 hours. The only place is near a couple who if they didn’t have clothes on might start having sex as the woman is straddled on top of her guy. They seem a little high, drunk or both but not dangerous.
I sit at an angle so I won’t have to look at them. I hear, “HNY” in a woman’s soft voice. I look over and see that her eyes are glazed over I am afraid that she might touch me as her hand is reaching out. My instinct is to move away but, I make myself sit still so I don’t offend her or her boyfriend–I don’t want trouble. I wish her a HNY too and hope that’s the end of our exchange. Mostly people ignore or give one another space on BART but this is one evening where such rules of social etiquette go out the window and boundaries are blurred if not obliterated. I am relieved when they eventually get up to leave; I do as well as my train will come soon. I walk over to the platform and notice a guy with a leather jacket and another with a buzz cut wearing a black wind breaker unzipped.
This second guy I am wary of because we were on the same train earlier. He made a show of cat walking through the aisle with an arched back, hands on his hips while uttering something I couldn’t make sense of. All he needed was a dress and he would fit right in on any runway. And right now, he still has his hands on his hips–elbows jutting out at a right angle. The image of a peacock comes to mind. When the train comes I am relieved that the cat walk guy goes to the far end of the car. I follow the leather jacket guy in who sits in the last seat. Straight ahead, I see a young man passed out in the disabled seat. I take the other seat across the aisle from him so I can keep an eye on him. There are a few others already in this car so I feel relatively safe.
About 2 stops later, the runway guy walks the length of the car and plops down next to me. I am on high alert now and I wonder if I would have been safer with the disorderly masses? What comes out of his mouth next is gibberish and I choose not to turn my head nor acknowledge that I heard him. After a beat, he abruptly gets up and prances to the next car–whew!
A couple more stops and the train comes to a complete halt. I find myself staring at the BART map and repeatedly counting the number of stops before I can get off, “1, 2, 3 more to N Berkeley.” Finally the train starts again and the guy in the leather jacket who is about 7-8 feet away says to me with a friendly smile, “We’re almost there.” Perhaps he sensed my discomfort? He also saw what went down when the runway guy sat next to me. I smile back and laugh in release. I relax.
As we pull into Berkeley Center, the guy in the leather jacket gets up. As he passes, he bends toward me and puts a business card in my hand. Without making eye contact, he shyly says, “Hope to hear from you soon. You’re beautiful.” Feelings and thoughts flood me all at once: shock, feeling flattered, personal space being crossed, curiosity, intrigue, and thinking this guy has good taste–haha!
The only eye contact was when he smiled at me earlier. In this last exchange, he can’t even look at me even though I am looking right at him: my fight or flight is trying to quickly assess if there is any danger here. And to my surprise, there is none because his demeanor is slightly submissive especially with his gaze on the floor. All of this happens in a split second and I respond with, “Thank-you.” He still doesn’t look at me when he exits.
When the train starts, I examine his card. He’s got a Phd in molecular biology, is an ex marine, and works at a lab at Cal. I’m impressed. My story I have about him is that he was willing to risk risky behavior on this NYE in an authentic way to connect. And I realize that that was all that the woman and cat walk guy were seeking as well–connection with another human being. Maybe they weren’t as socially skilled as the last guy but, I believe their intentions were innocent:) Which makes me grateful, because my plan to avoid people wasn’t really successful. All kinds of mirrors were held up for me in those three short yet intimate encounters on my ride home–two of which I had initially judged as negative that I now see as positive and very human.
Hope you had as great an ending to 2015 as I did and wishing everyone a great new start for 2016–you are all beautiful 🙏❤️💃🎉🎊☺️