Cheeks blushed rosy, lips glossed ruby. Indigo lines around twinkling eyes. Hair pulled back, dangling turquoise and onyx, crystal sparkles catching the light. The chill of night air fills my lungs, my feet crunch the snow. Anticipation of live music and good company warm me, like a favorite blanket.
Cute boys with beards and flannels, pretty girls with sweaters and boots, dim table lamps and clink of glasses. Din of a crowd and the dim of the lights, light and dark, sound and silence, life and hibernation all at once. Hugs are exchanged, smiles are traded. Five women on stage tuning their instruments and walking in cowboy boots. They play, they sing, and so does my heart. This environment is familiar; for years, it fed me in a way that nothing else could. I feel alive.
The crowd grows, and drinks are raised in all hands but mine. Then it starts, small at first, but slowly growing - a nagging buzzing pressure in my head, a thump in my chest. A nervous energy in my belly, clawing its way down my legs and up my chest and into my neck, scratching at the base of my brain. I feel hot. I get irritated. I can't focus. Someone's perfume trails up my nose, leaving nausea and a headache in its wake.
[going out isn't always so fun anymore]
The contained chaos of the crowd makes me feel like my nervous system is going to short circuit, brain fizzled and fried. Skin that crawls and fingers that twitch and head the pounds louder than the voices on stage. Must leave. Now.
[now. now. now.]
I make awkward but honest escape, quick goodbyes, desperate pushing through the crowd. Couples nestled in booths, crowds of friends sharing drinks and laughter. Me quickly putting on my coat and pushing out the door. The rush of icy air brings relief, but quickly turns to sadness; a quiet sidewalk speaks of icy despair when their is warmth and love inside.
I scream in my car until I can't scream anymore.
[an ironic gesture for someone suffering massive sensory overload]