Lately, I’ve been feeling lonely. There’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely, because, well, I’ve been alone for a greater part of the last 14 years. Most of that time, though, I haven’t felt lonely.
After two tragedies struck my friends and family in Indiana over the last six weeks though, I started to feel homesick. I left Indiana at 18, headed South, and really never thought I’d turn back. And yes, I’ve had some great times in these parts, and met some great people – but is anyone ever quite as great as the friends you’ve known since middle school? Doubtful.
I still don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Indiana, or the Midwest, other than for quick visits. Although in times like these, I can’t explain just how much I wish I could hop right on over to Indiana, to spend a Friday night with people who know me; people who make me excited to be alive. Regardless, I’m trying to make the most out of my life in Austin, and I know it’s one of the most entertaining cities in the country.
But my attempts at making friends here have left me feeling more lonely than when I started. People have flaked for things I’ve invited them to do – movies, concerts, brunches – and even things they’ve invited me to do. Everyone is looking for the Bigger, Better Deal (the BBD), and apparently I am not it.
After years of suffering from breakup after breakup, I quickly learned that a man was not going to be the source of my happiness, and I’ve basically given up on that part of my life. I know I can still live a meaningful, happy, and fulfilling life as a single person.
But I can’t do it alone, can I? I suppose I pictured my life as a single person much like the lives of the women on “Sex and the City” – only, minus the sex and designer fashions. Or perhaps like those on “Girls” only minus the sex and easy-going careers. You get the picture: I need a few friends to do shit with.
Because you know what? No matter how cool I think I am, hanging out with just myself gets old. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to surprise myself with yet another great, home-cooked meal. These days, I’m so over myself that I buy all of the organic, pre-made goods I can because then at least I have time to read or to build a plan to get friends.
During the week, I don’t have much time for social outings given my job, my dance schedule, and this blog. Some weekends, I am busy with chores or writing projects, but other weekends it would be nice to meet up with friends for drinks, a sporting event, or simply a movie.
Holidays, though, those are the worst. I hate admitting this, but I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas by myself last year, and as much as I tried to make it pleasant for myself – baking a pie from scratch & mixing craft cocktails – it was a very depressing time.
Because the truth is, when you’re not close to family, and your friends live 19 hours away, it almost seems as if I’ve built so many walls around myself that my only choice is to be alone, even for the moments when being together is all that really matters.
This is not the first time in my life I’ve felt lonely, of course. In fact, it is during these times when I have fallen into a dark pattern of meeting friends, or sometimes, men, who are terribly wrong for me. Because of this, I am very weary of my actions during these times – I don’t want to fall for the wrong people out of desperation.
But it is also during these times when little things hurt even more than they would on a good day. The cat call of a construction worker (“You have a fat ass”) on your morning walk to the Texas Capitol stings more; being ignored by a crush cuts a little deeper; and getting ditched by a girlfriend calls for a bottle of wine to keep all to yourself.
I struggle with gathering the courage and confidence to do things alone, or to simply just curl up on my couch and accept my fate.
After a week of debate, I braved downtown Austin and went to see Big Freedia in concert, alone. I put on my best twerking outfit, dark lipstick, and treated myself to a beer (or two). As I was standing at the bar alone, a few ladies approached me and asked if I’d come alone. Yes, I did, I said.
So had they. All of our friends had ditched us. And so, we danced the night away, together. It was great, and just the night I needed. I had done it for Freedia – her positive attitude and awesome music got me off my couch, and her presence sent me floating into the night.
I am still trying to make friends; and to figure this whole thing out. Until then, perhaps I’ll just live by a new set of words: What Would Freedia Do?
“All I can do is do what I do and make it do what it does.” -Big Freedia
I spent a decent portion of last weekend in bed watching back-to-back episodes of “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” on FUSE.
As if I don’t already have enough shows on TV I like to watch, I find great joy in seeing what else is on that I can possibly latch onto. About a month ago, I saw this series was on and starting recording all of the episodes.
I let them pile up and then started from the beginning on Saturday – it was the perfect excuse to turn my head away from the protests and political craziness for a bit.
The thing is, I’d heard of Big Freedia, and have done some dancing to her songs at the studio, but really didn’t know much else. That changed, and I’m hooked. Here’s the trailer for season 1:
There’s at least five seasons, if not six, so there’s a good binge-session waiting for you. Anyway, who the heck is Big Freedia, the Queen Diva, YOU already know!!!! Okay, I’m sorry, I really do just love her positive energy!
Big Freedia is from New Orleans, where Bounce music originated, and has been popular since the 90s. Although many other artists have dabbled in Bounce before moving on, Freedia has been credited with taking it out of NOLA, and throughout the world.
Bounce music is difficult to describe – you’d know it if you heard it – but it’s music to twerk to, clap to, shake ya rump to – that’s the best part about it, it’s a genre of music that’s meant to be positive, meant for everyone to just cut loose without judgment.
Freedia started performing Bounce with drag queen and Bounce legend Katy Red in the late 90s. Hurricane Katrina sent Freedia to Texas, but when the city recovered from the storm, Freedia was performing several times a week, and became very well-known.
The television show catches Freedia just as things are really kicking up in her career. She’s about to embark on her first international tour, and is trying to figure out how to affordably become mainstream and go global.
Of course, the focus is on Freedia, but Katy Red is also in the show a lot, along with Freedia’s managers, dancers, producers, and family.
What I really love about the show is how it really shows this homegrown artist – a person who was born and raised in New Orleans, performing music known mainly in New Orleans; a person who has designed her own outfits and hair and styling for performances… and watch as they attempt to make it big.
The managers have one opinion, Freedia has another. But which decision will be the best for the career? For the tour? For the music?
It’s bittersweet to see because Freedia is just so awesome and humble and has this unique view of the world; but it hasn’t gotten her global (until now, of course).
Freedia started appearing nationally – in the New York Times and on HBO, in 2009, and is very well known for her performances at SXSW and her collaborations with RuPaul. She has set the Guiness World Record for twerking, and serves as the opening voice for Beyonce’s “Formation” Tour.
I’m only two seasons in, but I’m excited I still have plenty to watch, and plenty to learn. I don’t think I can quite convey how awesome the energy is – whether it’s in the music, the dance, or just the way Freedia talks (you’ve got to love a deep New Orleans accent, okey beh-beh) – it is just what I needed in these dark times.
So… if you need me, I’ll be twerking. YOU ALREADY KNOOOOOW.