Tuesday, November 19, 2013

For Something Else

My heart started beating when I realized my turn to speak was coming up, a kind of pounding right in the center of my chest that lightly echoed in a full body reverberation. The dj, wearing a vest made of sheet music, looked towards me, microphone in hand. In a deep, practiced voice, he said:
“Now a few words from the sister of the bride and Desiree, the sister of the groom.” 
My body reacted and I stood up. I walked towards him, reached for the mic and waited as Desiree took her place beside me. The mic was slightly warm in my grip.
I stood there, looking first at my sister on my left, sitting in an off the shoulder white dress at a small table just for two, her husband next to her.  I looked into the crowd of people, sitting behind plates of food and half filled wine glasses. Some of them I knew from childhood, others were still strangers.
I looked into them, but did not really see them, not as individuals, not even like people. They were a mass of energy and even though they appeared as human shapes, my perception went past that simple quality. 
I took a breath, my body somehow relaxing on its own without brain intervention. I looked at the groom, sitting in a suit and jacket beside my sister.
I opened my mouth and got exactly three words out before the fourth caught in my throat. I was immediately surprised by it, hearing it from a stranger’s perspective even though it came out of me. My years of training moved through me in that moment as I calmly kept going, speaking slowly enough for the words to move through me, a vessel talking to the great pulsating mass that went beyond us. 

Later I understood that my sister wanted a party, a real party with dancing and energy. It was then I understood, it was then I decided that I would be that party. I would be the dancing body, I would help her create that invocation.
The only way to make a party is to be a party.  I wiggled and jumped to rap. I bounced and sang to early 90s hip hop. I gathered my chiffon skirt up and did some grinding to Justin Timberlake.
We were on a patio, just steps from the ocean waters now black under the night sky. Between us and the ocean was a cement promenade, even at night there were people walking by. I realized we were on display, the dancers, the people standing on the sidelines grabbing drinks at the bar, the older couples standing against the cement ledge, we were all on display and I let myself be a spectacle, giving up self conscious thoughts about what the three black guys thought of us dancing to Tupac or what the couple walking hand in hand perceived as they saw us dancing in a circle around the bride and groom. I flowed into the pure ritual of it, allowing myself to be a dancer, a singer of repeated tunes, a sister of the bride, a wild invocant mixing tribal movements and fist pumping and flamenco to “I like big butts and I cannot lie…”