Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Margaret Meets Club


Friday night I did something called, "Going to a club."

Margaret, meet the Club.
The Club, meet Margaret.

*cue strobe lights, smoke machine, heavy bass*
*add so many people you can't move*
*add in a mono-exhausted human*

I seem to not really know what's happening till it's just about to happen. Friday night, Jorge and I were discussing what to do. He had an obligatory event which is what ended up happening.

In Ecuador, there's more of a social obligation to do things than I think there is in the States. Like, in the States, if I don't feel like going to a party, I never feel like I should. My friends understand that first and foremost, I'm taking care of my well being and, to them, they respect that that isn't a reflection of how much I care for them.

Here, from what I've gathered, you truly have obligations to go - frequently as a reciprocation for someone who has come to one of your events. In this case, Jorge was to go to a club for his girlfriend's best friend's graduation celebration.

Before going to the club, my roommate here, Paolita, jumped in to do my hair and make-up. Those are things I just don't really have down. I've sort of learned to do mascara but even that's iffy.

Hair blown out, cheeks blushed to the maximum, dress on, and we were off.

Turns out we got there an hour which was, for me, the biggest blessing of the night. There was a crowd around the entrance when we got there and very few people were being let in. After a few cigarettes, Jorge showed them a card with the name of the club on it, "Love," and after some intense scrutinizing of our passports, the four of us - Jorge, Regge, Paola, and I - were let in.

Definitely a culture shock.
Definitely like in the movies.

I'd never been to a club or anything like it in my life. Lately, I've been thinking, "I wonder if I'd like it.." but hadn't had the gumption to go. Now I was here and, crikey, it looked cool.

Hexagonal mirror structures hang from the ceiling, the bar glowed, the walls glowed, smoke machine and lights, and dudes alllll around the perimeter with their arms crossed behind their backs. Mirrors and strobe machines. It looked unreal.

Since we were early, it was near empty.

For someone with SPD, Sensory Processing Disorder, this was perfect. It gave me time to slowly adjust. We walked around, checked in our belongings, and got a drink.

At this point I had all the space I needed and started to dance 'cause, well, I like to dance. Thing is, I'm not good at the bounce-in-one-place dance. I like to spin, twirl, jive, jump, clog, and groove. I tried to bounce-in-one-place but that plan sort of went out the window. I had the space and dancing makes me happy. As I started to dance, I noticed the eyes of the Ecuadorians on me. I read them for disapproval and only saw eye-little smiles of curiosity.

"They think you're high," said Jorge.
"I'm not - I'm not even drunk,"

For the entire night, I had one single drink which I followed up with two bottles of water. Getting drunk for me in stimulating situations is not, not, not an option.

Slowly, the club start to fill up like someone turned on the tap.

When we had first come to the club and were standing outside, I saw a man walk in who looked just like he was from Seattle. To put it simply, he looked like a programmer. I decided I wanted to talk to this person but wasn't in a mood to make it happen.

He was a cross between Nick and Sean which, I guess, means he just had short shelf-y brown hair, angular glasses, and a squinty smile.

Later, he was the one that initiated contact.

"You speak English?"
"Naww... I don't speak it at all. It's a difficult language to understand."
"What? You speak English?"

My sarcasm was lost -- and was forever lost whenever we talked.

"You from Ireland?"
"What? Ireland?"
"You dance like you're from Ireland."

And that's how I met Alexi (name changed).

The room continued to fill towards max capacity - a level of fullness I'd never experienced. At one point, Jorge and Regge dashed off without saying a word to me and that's when I sensed a brain-pattern start to occur well.

It's the one that leads to a SPD meltdown.

Luckily, I know the signs, know the feelings, and know how to do what's best for me.
I wasn't in a mood to explain SPD, I just knew I had to do what was best for me because a melt-down could not, not happen here.

Why was I going to have a meltdown? How about flashing lights, constant noise, people constantly running into me - three senses gone wild. My brain can't handle it, it can't process it. With SPD, my brain doesn't always best process senses like normal folks and in the end, I start to shut down if I don't stabilize myself.

Paolita kept trying to engage me in dancing but, by this point, my eyes couldn't help but dart around constantly. I told her I was going upstairs. She explained to me what Jorge and Regge were up to, but I wasn't really concerned with that. I just wanted to get upstairs where it is quieter and less crowded.

I found a velvet red chair and set myself down.

Posted by Graiman on Thursday, July 16, 2015

And this is where I stayed for the next two-ish hours. There in that chair.

When I might melt-down, I need a base - something I can rely on and feel grounded. This chair was it.

The joyous thing is I caught this all before it ever was an issue. I felt fine.

Paolita wasn't too sure, though.

People down here like to do things in groups. I was talking to Jorge and Alexi about it. When you come to the club with a group, you stay with the group -- being alone isn't a thing you do. Me? I'm totally fine and comfortable with going solo.

If you want to go smoke, everyone comes with you.
Get a drink? The same.
The bathroom? "Wait for me here."

She wanted me to go with her to go dance again or go smoke and each time I said in Spanish, "Nope! I'm very content right here. I like it here. You can go wherever you like but I need to be here."

And truly, I was content and having a fine time. This was such an interesting environment. Once I was safe from the stimulation, I just got to watch people and take it all in. I got to enjoy the music at a more respectful volume for my ears.

At one point, one of Jorge's friends checked in on me, which I really appreciated. I'm not sure the Ecuadorians got how you could come to a club and be happy sitting by yourself upstairs in a corner. It was really sweet of him, though. For all he knew, I was wasted and scared and alone (which Jorge would not have ever allowed to have happen to me).

After a while, Alexi walked by and I sort of dismissed him. He respected that.
He walked by again later and I waved and he came over and we talked.

I soon learned he was actually Russian and when I learned that, it seemed the perfect place to quote Soviet Winnie-Pooh.

I have yet to meet a Russian who doesn't know, "Куда идем мы с Пятачком."

Alexi imports Ecuadorian flowers to Russia.

We exchanged information and he departed with a hug saying, "I like you."
I'm sure you do, Alexi. I'm sure you do.

A bit later, there was another man sitting in the other chair across the way from me. For over 10 minutes, every once in a while we'd look at each other and then start cracking up.

Eventually, he came over, gauging my body language on if I wanted to talk or not. I welcomed the conversation. I was here to meet people and welcome human contact.

His name was Jonathan and it had been his 28th birthday the night before. He's from a small town two hours away but now lives in Quito

End of the story, to summarize. I went and slept in the truck till it was time to go.

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