What do I feel, remember, in these short moments of breath between the waves?
The small moments crest above the others.
A walk back from the symphony hall. A short chat in a hallway. A nod in an elevator. A hello at the door. The moments you went back to your room to find someone in your bed, a group of people on the floor, a friend waiting outside the door. The times you went to your best friend telling her you wanted to throw up; her holding you together in the moments you couldn’t.
There’s that moment in the club when you need to catch your breath, take a seat in the corner, and watch them. These people you live with. These people you’ve grown with. These people who are smart and caring and intelligent and kind and silly and abundant. You sit in the corner on a high chair. And you watch them. Dancing. Singing. Smiling at each other, Evgeny buying shots for everyone because that’s what he does when he’s drunk and his current startup is doing well. You notice how happy each of them looks in that moment. How connected they all seem. How you won’t have this moment forever; how you will always have it. How much pride and joy you feel looking at their smiling, mildly gross and sweaty faces.
Someone comes up to you and asks if you are okay
Someone comes up to you.
They ask, “are you Okay?”
They pull you back to the dance floor, because something they want just as much as their own happiness, is yours.
And you dance.
You dance until it’s morning.
You dance until the trains start running again.
You fall asleep on the train because you are safe with them. These people you didn’t know just a year ago, just a month ago. These people who know you now.
At least one thing about you.
They know you dance salsa. They know you like Notion. They know you draw comics. They know you probably submitted your capstone a week early. They know you probably submitted it a minute late. They know you want to act. They know you were an ice skater. They know you’d do a triathlon if given the chance. They know you’re the one with the whacky yellow notebooks. They know their favorite vlog of yours. They know the taste of your chai. They know the way you say their name, loudly, through the hall, in a deep, rumbling voice. They know you’re going to change the UN. They know you’ll run 1 million startups until everyone knows your name for one. They know you’ll be nominated best teacher of the year. They know you’re going to give all of yourself even if, sometimes, it hurts you. They know you’re going to make the world a little bit more equal.
They know you care.
So you sit, in a corner of the basement club that plays a mix of old-school hip hop and current K-pop hits. You look at them. Knowing you’ll spend the rest of your life looking at them loving each other, supporting each other, changing the world, changing the lives of the people around them. You know this moment will be over, that it will always exist, when that person comes over and asks, “are you okay?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more okay in my life,” you say.
And so you return to the dance floor.
And you dance.