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I’d been talking with a guy, Brian, since arriving at the hostel. He was living there on a semi-permanent basis as a paying guest. One evening, when I was lying about in the bedroom writing, he came in and asked if I wanted to go to a party in South Beach, Miami. Sure, why not.

The drive was close to an hour. We talked the whole time, but I never thought to ask anything about the party we were headed to. I assumed it was a house party of some sort. When we got there, it was not at all what I was expecting. We were at a Hollywood movie release party. Brian was a professional sky diver and his role in the movie was to film the actors sky diving while he soared next to them. Unfortunately the movie never made it to the big screen. I was rather shocked by the crowd of people I found myself in. Hollywood people. Dressed to the nines. Hair done. Fancy Shmancy. And here’s me: crazy half ass dread locks, 20 hole doc martins, old ratty unbuttoned flannel shirt revealing some type of political T-shirt underneath. Thread bare jeans, holes in the knees. It’s funny, I never really think about how I look until I see myself through someone else’s eyes in a moment like this. But what was even more shocking was how the people I met at this event treated me. Everyone was kind, respectful, and interested in my story. People opened up to me and almost treated me like a guru of some sort. Even though I was just a dumb ratty looking kid. I expected to be snubbed off, but instead I think I attracted and opened up a part of these people they didn’t often get to express.

There was an open bar and cocktail waitresses walking around offering people shots. To me this was the epitome of high class. I couldn’t believe Brian hadn’t told me what kind of party we were going to. We stayed for a short while, but regardless of everyone’s friendliness, I still felt out of place. We went outside on the deck to get some fresh air. We wanted to go up higher to the roof. There were stairs and ramps leading up. We followed to the next level until coming to a blocked off stairwell. We decided this blockade didn’t apply to us and passed through. Now on the roof, we had a beautiful view of the city and ocean. There was a building with one side covered in a grid. Each block lit up in a different color.

It was a bit slick on top of the roof. It must have rained recently because the ground was wet. We used this to our advantage. The slickness made the roof slippery as ice and we could glide quite a ways. Brian and I began running and sliding all over. We were like kids playing games. Laughing, running and having a grand ole time.

Eventually, we decided to go back into the party. Once inside, we went our separate ways. Him to shmooze some fellow Hollywood people and me to visit the restroom. Coming out of the bathroom, I looked down and saw some white marks on the floor. Huh? I thought. Looking further, I saw a trail of white streaks. I glanced down at my boots and the bottoms were covered in white paint with more paint splattered up the length of the boot. Oh crap! I looked around to see Brian and I had tracked paint all over the wood floor of this fancy party!

I went in search of Brian. Found him. He hadn’t noticed yet what we had done. After pointing it out, we seemed to be on the same page. Let’s get the hell outta here before somebody notices. I’ll remind the reader again, I was a punk ass 18 year old. I would hope today I would tell someone, grab a bucket of water, and start scrubbing before the paint set in. But as the young buck (doe?) I was, and perhaps Brian was equally embarrassed, we rushed out of there without a second thought.

The beach was only a couple minute walk from the building and we headed down to enjoy the beautiful night air. We laughed about the paint and our complete naivete. How we thought we were dancing in the rain, when in fact we were playing in paint. We laughed about how I expected a house party and instead found myself at a Hollywood party. He told me more about skydiving and his job doing it as film crew. It was a beautiful night. Sitting, laughing, star gazing, the sound of the ocean, feel of the sand, and temperature of the air. He leaned over to kiss me, but I pulled back. My mind wasn’t at all in that head space. We were just hanging out. But I guess it was different for him, though I had no idea. This happened a second time with a different guy I’d become friends with at the hostel. In both cases the guys were very polite, and when I moved away, saying I wasn’t interested, they accepted and the issue was over. We remained friends. Even still, this sort of thing created an awareness. It’s easy for an open friendliness to be misinterpreted. I began building a bit of armor. A separation between myself and others energetically. Regardless of how smoothly the situation went, I didn’t like that I apparently gave off false signals. Now in my later years, I’m working to tear down that armor and regain the openness I once had. Life is funny.

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