All the shebeens I walk past on the way back to Xabiso Upstairs are packed with people: children, teenagers, parents and grandparents. The booze is flowing like a river. Everybody’s shouting instead of talking, and laughter swivels into argument in a flash. I weave my way around all sorts: children playing in the pot-holed streets; grown men with sour breath fighting; young woman smiling or crying.
I get back to Xabiso Upstairs and get myself a drink straight away. I’m feeling braver and I’m going to make sure it stays that way. I’m gonna have a good time.
“We went to the coolest party last night,” I hear Lindiwe telling a crowd of friends. “The had the hottest DJ styling on the decks.”
I clutch the bottle of Hunters with both hands and down it like it’s medicine. My stomach glows warm. For a moment I almost feel happy. I get myself another drink.
Lindiwe and Gugu are dancing again and everybody joins in, a cool, grooving crowd in the middle of the room. They’re having the best time. I feel my hips start to sway in time to the music. It feels good.
One more drink and then maybe I’ll just walk over and dance with them. Soon we’ll all be friends and then we’ll often talk about DJs we saw playing the night before. I down a Smirnoff Storm
I’m about to make my move when two guys join Lindiwe and Gugu on the dance floor. They must be their boyfriends because within seconds they’re kissing each other’s faces off. I don’t know where to look.
I pour myself a J&B with a dash, and lean against the bar, trying to look like I’m fine standing there all on my own, without a crowd of people who want to talk to me, or a boyfriend who wants to kiss me like I’m the hottest babe on earth. Hoping nobody will notice that I’m a nobody.
And then I notice that he’s here – and he’s smiling at me. My head is buzzing with booze and I’m smiling back.
My thoughts are slow but clear. If I just stay here leaning against the bar like a wallflower my life is never going to amount to anything. If I want to be somebody, if I want to make a success of my life, I can’t just sit here in the corner feeling sorry for myself. I need to do something about it.
And I decide, It’s Time To Live This Day. So I get up, walk over, take his hand and lead him outside.