It’s funny how memory works and how it doesn’t. How we remember things the way we want to remember them rather than how they really were. The new Britney Spears dance song, “Till the World Ends” is an intense pop club anthem that brings up many vivid memories from my past. Just hearing it takes me back to the days of finagling myself into clubs that were for 21 and older when I wasn’t. When I listen to this song, I can see the low lighting, and flashing strobe lights of the club. I can almost feel the vibrations of the speakers against my body as I picture myself back in time, dancing in stilettos in a glittering sea of people. It was a whimsical time full of fashion, fun, and fabulosity- wait, am I thinking of my life or the entire premise of the TV series Sex in the City?
Rewind. Most of what I described was true, the sore feet the next morning from the stilettos, the nerves wondering if the bouncer would let me in, the sweaty gyrating crowds. It was fun, those nights were late and full of alcohol and chain smoking, smokey eyed make up and the sparkliest earrings money could buy. The mornings were full of hang overs mainly, and then the inevitable memory recall. Who knew trying to think of the previous night’s events in chronological order could be so challenging? Then there were the inevitable conversations with friends about the night, the “I said what?”s, and the mocking of anyone who was exuberantly creepy or offensive.
“See the sunrise, we ain’t stoppin’, keep on dancin’ till the world ends.” The song is so intoxicating. Yes, there were mornings that I stayed up till sunrise, if I didn’t pass out before then. Although dancing is a huge part of the club scene, what percentage of people actually go to the clubs to dance? I’m pretty sure 99% of people there are just hoping to meet somebody. At the time I was, and went home each and every night disappointed. And if in the club, I did meet someone of interest, after about a week of getting to know them, I still ended up disappointed.
I’ll be honest. The loud clothing I wore to the club, the extravagant make-up and jewelry, was a bit Jersey Shore, pre-Shore era, complete with the indoor tan (hey I’m from the tri-state area, cut me some slack). It was a fun and careless time in my life, however; my sense of loneliness and the intense feeling of not belonging usually outweighed any of the fun I had. I partied way too much. I tried to push my most painful memories out of my mind altogether, but failed to realize that you can’t handpick the memories you want to numb without closing yourself off from the world entirely. Because of this, the few times I met decent guys, I unknowingly sabotaged it for myself one way or another.
I don’t know why our memories play tricks on us like this. Why do we remember some events as wonderful when they were really lonely or just plain awful? Is this just another form of denial? A way of coping? Perhaps it’s because these memories are a little bit of both- wonderful and awful, an inseparable duo forever trapped in our minds, like lost pennies in the deepest wishing well.
Like the time that beer exploded in my brand new hand bag, that was hilarious for several reasons- for one, who carries beer in a handbag? Oh, college. Yup, it was really funny until I realized the calculator I borrowed from my father was in the purse too. Thank God my friends had enough sense to put it on the heating unit so it could dry off. I never would’ve thought of that. And that was the highlight of that night.
Earlier that day, I’d met a really nice guy, who was cute too, who wanted to meet up with me at the party later. When he walked in he looked gorgeous in his light pink polo shirt. I love when guys wear pink. The most poignant part of this memory was the sense I got that he was trying to look good for me. Too bad he arrived to the party late and I was pretty inebriated by the time he walked in. And we all know how attractive inebriated is to the sober.
For a while that was a very painful memory for me. Anytime I met a guy who just seemed nice, I ended up being the jerk and ruining it, somehow. I take full responsibility for this of course, and the awareness that it lay on my shoulders only made it even more painful. No one would ever love me. Perhaps we are all like the old cat from Cats the musical. She crawls onto stage looking miserable and worn, yet as soon as she opens her mouth and begins to sing, we are transported to her youth, a time where she was beautiful and wanted. In this Susan Boylesque display, she still is beautiful as she defies our imaginations and imprints in our brains a memory we will never forget.
Memories are safe, memories are predictable, perhaps that is why we mold and shape them in our mind to perfection and at times secretly idle in the thoughts of going back, to let the memory live again.