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Just the Saddest Party Song In The World

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can sing what we want

It struck me as our train was speeding toward its over-an-hour-late arrival in Albany-Rensselaer at one o’clock in the morning. Suzie was asleep next to me and we had just enjoyed a marvelous day-trip to New York. Most of me was exhausted and supremely spent after departing before the break of day and arriving well after the fall of night. But a small part was not quite ready to stop, a part that didn’t want the carefree Sunday to end. A reminder that once upon a time the one AM hour was just when things started to get good.

Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere
Hands in the air like we don’t care
‘Cause we came to have so much fun now
Bet somebody here might get some now
If you’re not ready to go home
Can I get a “Hell, no!”? (hell, no)
‘Cause we’re gonna go all night
‘Til we see the sunlight, alright

And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night?
Can’t you see it’s we who ’bout that life?
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
We run things, things don’t run we
Don’t take nothing from nobody
Yeah, yeah

At 42 years of age, I mostly find that those days have passed. A week later and I’m still trying to recover the sleep that was lost. The body doesn’t bounce back as quickly as it once did, the energy no longer replenishes itself instantly, and getting a second wind is a thing of miracles and dreams. When Miley Cyrus sings this strangely melancholy song of non-stop partying, it means something different to me. Hidden among the distorted vocals and modern machinations is a gorgeously sad melody that celebrates and bemoans not wanting the party to end. Defiant all the way into the first light of morning, we keep our hands up in the air, reaching for something that will always remain elusive, grasping for the final feather in the cap of a perfect day. We never seem to realize that by the time we are trying to capture the moment, it has already gone. Sometimes it’s enough to remember, sometimes it’s not.

To my home girls here with the big butt
Shaking it like we at a strip club
Remember only God can judge ya
Forget the haters ’cause somebody loves ya
And everyone in line in the bathroom
Trying to get a line in the bathroom
We all so turnt up here
Getting turned up, yeah, yeah, yeahhh

And so we draw back from getting too serious, as if by keeping things silly and superficial we can tame the ticking of time, roll back the encroaching years, stop the loss and hurt that age and growing older inevitably bring. In ‘The Great Gatsby’, Daisy Buchanan staves off her sorrow by inhabiting a flimsy atmosphere of sheer, ephemeral glamour, lost in her soft cadence of whimsical words. I wonder if that’s the best way to deal with the world. Turn a blind eye. Escape in the fantasy of beauty and riches. Throw off heartache with the turn of a bracelet. Maybe Daisy was onto something. Maybe she knew things that we don’t.

It’s our party we can do what we want to
It’s our house we can love who we want to
It’s our song we can sing if we want to
It’s my mouth I can say what I want to
Say yeah, yeah, yeah, ehh

And we can’t stop, yeah
And we won’t stop, oh
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night?
Can’t you see it’s we who ’bout that life?

And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
We run things, things don’t run we
Don’t take nothing from nobody
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, ehh

Our train trundles onward, speeding us toward the final destination, trying to make up for lost time, whether we want off or not. In the still, dim compartment, young people parade by, former versions of ourselves. They’re just beginning, and in their wide-awake smiles and cheery countenance in the face of a very late train, I can see they have yet to be beaten down by life. It warms the heart. They don’t want to stop just yet either, and they have the energy and expanse of a long future to sustain them.

I just want to reach the soft comfort of my bed, and the moment after a long hot shower when I can sink under the covers and inhabit the only place I want to be at one AM these days.

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