You walk in primed, eyes scanning the masses for familiar faces, the faces you came for.
The music thumps at your feet, a steady pulse of sound. Your glasses are a bit smudged, but you've tucked your shirt into your pants, and your sweater is scratchy wool, unfit to wipe with. You blink and persevere.
Your friend is sparkling, a bit drunk, wide grin, warm arms. She hides her irritation well. As always, you marvel at her candor, her effusiveness no less bubbling from behind a clenched jaw. It's a skill, you think, as you drift away to greet the other people you know. Or maybe it's a curse.
He told you to bring the eyeglass cloth, you remember, and pull it out of your purse. Clarity!
Everyone's teeth are shining, everyone smells comfortable and good. The air between bodies is sharp, keeping you alert. Your beer is cold, and the foam keeps collecting on your upper lip. You suck it into your mouth, thinking about the lip gloss you applied in the Uber that you are now injesting. You're hungry.
"I'm gonna eat one of these," he says, slipping a fry into his mouth. Someone left the plate on the table; you don't know whose it is. You take a fry as well. It is cold, and greasy. "We should order," you posit, and he agrees.
You yell-talk with a girl you've seen before, whose name you're supposed to know, but you don't. She's pretty. Sometimes you are honest. "What? Sorry, I didn't get that?" And other times you "Ha, ha!" and smile wide, and nod. You have missed half of this conversation. You hope there will not be a quiz later.
Photo booths with him are fun. He pays twice, so four strips of pictures sputter from the machine. The waist on your pants is tight but it is not unmanageable. You had a baby, you remember suddenly. She's not here, but you are. You wonder what she's doing. You hope it isn't crying. The thought breaks your heart a little. You take a sip of beer.
You think about chemicals, about your bloodstream, about breastmilk and getting a glass of water. You forget. You watch strangers: tight pants and scuffed boots, lopsided ponytails and raucous laughter. You make eye contact, accidentally, and look away, and wonder about the set of their mouth, who they were texting. You puzzle over the impossibility of the interiority of someone who also exists within this space, who has no connection to you at all. Or perhaps they do. You wonder if they are happy, or if there is secret trauma hiding in plain sight. Only you are blind to it, because you immediately look away whenever you accidentally make eye contact.
A man begins talking to you because of the podcast ("Are you his wife?"), and he asks about the baby. It is weird and wonderful. You talk for a while. You ask him his name before he leaves, and repeat it after he says it, willing it to stick to your memory, which is slick as melting ice. You forget it five minutes later, when you are relaying the story. You are disappointed with yourself, but not surprised.
The music changes. Your body moves, bones loosening, slipping into murky pools of rhythm. You have a second drink, and your sweater comes off. You feel old and young. You kiss him, and he kisses you back, while bodies around you sway and snap. The fries you ordered grow cold with abandonment. Maybe someone else will eat them later.