I flew back yesterday, after an extended visit with my brother and his wife and their 9-week-old infant in the stale midwestern city where they make their home. My sister-in-law is a medical resident who works 14-hours shifts and my brother spends all day at the gun range practicing for the coming apocolypse. Besides which he is a disordered personality who probably shouldn't be entrusted with the care of a child. Enter Auntie Grace.
It was about time for me to get out of town anyway. My last shift at the club was a silent meltdown that ended with me on stage grinning-mad with hate, wishing I could rip my skin off and throw it. The DJ hugged me when he let me go early, and tried to give me back the $5 I was tipping him. I'd done one lapdance all night and made $11 on stage. Burnout. Burn. Out. So, time for a break.
My niece is a melancholy baby; she only smiles when she farts. I invented little tricks to hush her when she cried. Letting my hair down and shaking it around her face. Balancing her on my shins and bouncing her up and down as I did Pilates-inspired leg-lifts to the tune of "Folsom Prison Blues." She had a strange, sweet scent, surprisingly strong. It soaked into everything I wore until I smelled like her, even at the airport, pre-dawn, after my brother dropped me off without a word or a hug.
The faces of men in the airport give me strange stirrings. Especially while I shuffle through Business Class on my way to the peasant's seats in the rear. These guys are flying out on business, or flying home. They will be in the titty bars tonight, or they were there last night. I can't help sizing them up as potential customers: the time-wasters, the ass-slappers, the ones who give you their hotel keys, the sad drunks, the angry drunks, the bitter drunks, the ones who tell you how much they love their wives.
I wasn't liking men much by the time I left town. My drains were clogged with tiny insults and little unpleasantries. The guys who try to touch my pussy don't bother me nearly as much as the ones who ones who waste my time. My last night at the club I had two fabulous time-wasters. The kind who flag you down and tell you that you're beautiful. They beg you to sit on their laps. They want you to dance, but oh, not just yet, just sit a minute. Their eyes get furtive and you have a sinking suspicison what's coming next, but the club is so slow, you stick with it a little bit longer, and they swear they will buy dances from you, that they just can't wait to see you dance. And then they have to go and make a phone call. That's the last you see of them, of course. I can't help feeling like it's personal. Like they must have set out to ruin my night on purpose. I don't like it when people fuck with me on purpose. The rage I feel reminds me that the gun-toting, blood-loving sociopath at whose house I stayed at all last week is really my brother after all. Half of that gun-toting, blood-loving DNA is mine.
I look at men's faces in the security line, and at the gate, and in the plane, and I don't see anything I like or want to know about. I lift my arm to put my bag in the overhead and smell my niece's baby-smell on my sleeve. When I left I told myself, based on no evidence, that when I got back I would be ready to dance again. It's a magic that has worked before. I don't feel ready, but that's why it's magic.