I wake up early excitement tingles through my veins and a smile dresses my face. The day has arrived. My costume has been displayed, assembled, paid for, and picked up over the course of months. Energy pulses through the air as I try to cage up my excitement but of course I fail.
I reach into the bag that was assembled especially for me. My bracelet is put on lest I be banned from the festivities. Orange fish net stocking decorate well-shaved legs and are soon followed by a skimpy orange boy shorts. The diamond-encrusted bra is next; hues of pink and orange diamonds tumble down upon a naked stomach. The arms and legs are adorned with feathered cuffs that tickle not only the skin but also the imagination.
The last piece to be placed is the headpiece. It is what attracted me to the costume like a child to Dylan’s candy store. It is massive and inspired by Native American headpieces. Feathers upon feathers of blazing pink and orange are layered and cascade down like a waterfall. I adorn my crown and pick up my spear also decorated with feathers of pink and orange and a gold tip. Of course the flag of my country has been tied to it. How else will the hundreds of people on the other side of the gate know that is where I hail from?
The time to meet up is swiftly approaching. My mother, sister, and I depart my house. It has barely been a few steps and I can feel people’s eyes on me. Whispers and even some compliments drift on the air. A little skin is nothing on a day like today. The sun is blazing down and as we walk we see street vendors lined up with flags, t-shirts, necklaces, whistles, just about anything you could imagine placing a flag on. Flocks of people teem down the streets like ants to a major kill. They all wear flags some around their necks, others on their clothing, or in their pockets. Everything that they are, that they represent hang from their pockets as if telling the world “Hey, this is who I am and what I am proud to be.” I will not be with these commoners today.
I separate myself from my family and take back streets until I join those who are dressed as I am… the people in my Band. They have also decided that this is where they feel most comfortable. We greet smiles, laughter, and accents radiate. We sit and wait patiently until it is our time to begin our gallivanting. Liquor tinges the air but no one thinks twice about this. Today this is normal. Today we are free to be sensual and untamed without fear of judgment; today we are amongst our own.
The music begins to seduce the air. It pounds and struggles yet caresses it. Whistles blow, people shout, and yell; it is utter chaos; it is beautiful. Metal barricades separate us from the others: family, friends, and complete and utter strangers stay at us as if we are on display and we are today, we are the brave few. Policemen line the streets like trees but they do not exist in our fantasy, they are behind the rope that identifies us with our pink wristbands as one.
It does not take long for hips to begin to move. The music has kidnapped our bodies. We move without thought and without restraint. We do not feel the heat; we are chasing the sense of freedom and intend to achieve it. We chip along in a very steady rhythm. Feet shuffle some run, others jump, most wine their waists as though they have indeed been wound up. I am here but I am not; I am myself but then again I am not for no other day of the year, at least not in Brooklyn would this be socially acceptable.
My waist is not my own, neither is my legs; it belongs to the music. As my feet pound away at miles they begin to ache. The ache however is soon forgotten; elation succeeds it. People take pictures and some even shout my name. I run over to the metal barricade and touch a hand- give a hug; they have been waiting for me and have recognized me amongst the madness, they deserve recognition for their patience.
Who needs drugs? I am running on a natural high. Feet pounding, body twisting, bodies crashing, leaning, moving there is nothing quite like becoming one with the music and losing yourself. I can feel it beating in my chest. It has beat away worries, stress, and any fears. There are no exams there is only the music, the sun, and me. There is only ecstasy.