BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM.
Violet looks at me and when I return her gaze she grins so big I can see all the little Chiclet teeth dotting her pink gums. Look mama, she's dancing. A second girl with a hawk tattoo eating up most of the skin on her torso steps delicately into the circle of beating drums and begins to undulate with a hoola hoop. She does crazy things with the plastic ring, contorting her body around it like some kind of punk rock circus performer. It circles her neck, her waist, then her knees, never wavering. It gets closer and closer to the ground but before it kisses the grass she kicks a leg up and the hoola hoop is spinning around her ankle, fast as ever. The flesh around her hips hangs slightly over her torn jeans, jiggling with each circus-like maneuver, but it's sexy. Womanly. Beautiful.
My children and I are at what locals call The Drum Circle. Every Sunday hundreds of folks from all walks of life gather in a local park. Dozens bring drums, bongos whatever they've got to pound on. People laze about on blankets, the unmistakeable smell of pot lingers in the air. Dreadlocks and nose rings are commonplace. I could sit here forever. I love everything about it.
The Drum Circle has been going on for as long as I've lived in Salt Lake City. I'm fascinated by the people that go there. Of course, in my t-shirt, sneakers, the only dorky shorts that fit my post-baby body and the enormous double stroller loaded with two kids, I look like a soccer mom who made a wrong turn on the way to the big game. But maybe not. The Drum Circle is the kind of place where everybody fits in because nobody does.
"Get down?" Violet asks and I lift her from the stroller. She immediately runs to the nearest bongo and begins pounding. Dude who owns it smiles and shows her how to slap it just right. I look back and a tall man with piercings lacing much of the skin on his head is making silly faces at Henry, who is still in the stroller. Everyone is smiling, enjoying the tiny bubble of what feels like joyous anarchy we've created in Utah; home of conservatism. This is my kind of crowd, I think. You could transplant this group directly onto Washington Square in New York City.
I watch the girl with the hairy armpits work her body like a belly dancer and I am filled with regret that I never worked it like that. She is slow, sensual, probably stoned. I think back to my twenties and all the time I spent worrying what other people thought about me instead of dancing like nobody was watching. I never would've danced in the middle of a circle because I've would've been too worried about looking stupid. What a waste.
Think of all the time you've devoted to caring what other people think. Strangers! Why do we care so much what strangers think? Hours and hours of anxiety over what strangers think. Stop it! Let it go. Of course, the older I get the less I give a fuck but now I've got kids to worry about embarrassing. I wouldn't mind dreadlocks, my hair is treading dangerously close to that neck of the woods anyhow. I want to unleash my jiggly, white belly skins onto the world, let them bake in the spring sunlight and have the stone cold confidence that makes it appear sexy to others. But I'll never do that. Because I'm me. I care too much and I don't know why.
Grow your armpit hair, unleash your jiggly belly and dance in the middle of the circle! Do it for me, the dumb ass who has logged way too many hours worried about what others think.