(Part Two) It’s Party Time

When we finally arrive, empty beer cans already litter the poorly managed lawn and one guy is passed out on a rusted chair with a half empty bottle of Jack wedged between his legs. A group of three girls huddle under the sole tree consoling a crying fourth. Her makeup is smeared and she clutches her phone in her shaking hands, with every glance down bringing on a fresh wave of tears. Must be about a boy.

Loud house music assaults us as we squeeze our bodies into the crowded house. The walls pulse with the heavy beat and waves of bodies pressing inward, lunging and gyrating against each other. The sticky smell of sweat immediately makes us recoil but we continue on. This is a college party after all. No turning back. Everywhere I glance some couple is forced up against a corner or wall, spilling over couches and even propped up on their knees on the floor. Hands grope legs, chest, and face. “I love you” is thrown out in between gasps of stale air. My stomach clenches instantly revolted but I can’t seem to look away.

When we finally make it to the back of the house Jess yanks me into a corner near the kitchen.

“Isn’t this exciting?” she shouts in my ear. I have to lean in to hear her, my hair brushing up against her neck and chest.

“Oh yeah!” shouts a boy nearby. “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” He starts chanting, blurred eyes locked on the two of us, empty fist pumping the air while the other brings a sloshing mouthful of some kind of orange and pink liquid to his mouth. He takes a big gulp, spilling some down his shirt, before picking up his chant.

I am mortified.

“What an ass,” yells Jess, before flicking the boy off. But not before flashing him a quick smile. She loves the attention.

I push Jess away from the drunken boy and into the kitchen. There’s a keg in the center. A group of older boys hover over it chanting chug, chug, chug as the most intoxicated of the bunch tries to do a handstand on top of it. He has some kind of rubber hose clenched between his teeth. It isn’t until another starts pumping a handle and foaming beer spills out of the boy’s mouth and nose that I realize it’s connected to the keg. After a few seconds the boy falls off and into the crowd of chanting boys. He raises a hand in triumph before doubling over and into the sink. A foul stream of bubbling brown puke fills the basin. He wipes his mouth on his shirt and reaches for a cup of colorful liquid.

We keep to the far wall and make our way towards a countertop covered in plastic cups filled to the brim in different colored liquids. A dozen or so have already tipped over, and a rainbow pool expands along the tile flooring, hugging cabinet corners and sweeping up clumps of dirt and food. My sandals slip along the floor and my toes desperately grip the thin straps.

Finally with cups secured, Jess and I make our way back to the main dance floor. I look at the cup of swirling liquid. I can smell orange juice and what I think is cranberry juice as well. I lower my nose closer to the cup and take another deep breath in, choking on the third, unfamiliar smell. Something between paint cleaner and bleach. Is this alcohol? Never having tried alcohol before, I look towards Jess for some kind of guidance. Her face mirrors my own.

“It smells awful.”

“I know, but what are we going to do?” she asks. “Not drink it? Be those girls. Hell no! Just try not to breathe in when you take a sip, ok?”

I relent. I immediately regret it. The orange and cranberry juices do nothing to mask the corrosive burn of the alcohol. Fighting the urge to spit it back in the cup, I force myself to swallow. We stand huddled in our corner, choking down our drinks under grimaces and fake smiles.

“Good god that was awful!” I shout after downing the remaining remnants. I casually toss my cup behind me after a quick scan of the room fails to produce a trash can.

Jess follows suit before running back into the kitchen and emerging with two freshly filled cups. “No point in holding back now!” Her speech is slightly slurred and I suddenly remember we forgot to eat dinner. Drinking on an empty stomach, smart Tammy. I take the cup and this time chug the thing as quickly as possible. It doesn’t burn as much. Either my tongue has gone numb or the alcohol burned all of my nerve endings. Regardless, the second glass is much easier to drink

A warm sensation, almost like the feeling of a hot shower, starts at the top of my head and works its way down to my toes. My fingers start experiencing a strange tingling sensation and the room rocks and flows. It is a similar sensation I felt when I went out sailing with a few friends in high school. The gentle rocking of the boat mixed with the high winds created a constant jerking movement. As it did then, the rocking feeling quickly turned to a feeling of gut-wrenching nausea. I clench at my stomach, silently willing myself not to puke. Jess has already started on her third cup, her body unknowingly swaying and bouncing with the beat of the house music being blasted over the speakers. The heavy beat only causes the acid to lurch up into my chest. Running towards the hallway I mindlessly push people out of the way. I am oblivious to the angry shouts of one couple I had forced to unlock lips. The girl’s protests of “bitch” are silenced quickly by her companion’s eager mouth.

Shoving my way to the front of the line, I make it to the bathroom just in time. I shut the door to a bunch of screaming, drunken girls and collapse on the side of the toilet. Acidic, hot puke leaves my body in painful convulsions. I lie on the bathroom floor, exhausted and weak. My tears smear my makeup.

I don’t remember too much more from that night. A black fog had settled over, blurring the lines between reality and twisted memory. Reckless and terrifying, I embraced this lack of control. My entire life all I had known was control. I kept to schedules, always on time and never out too late. Letting go felt wonderful. Being young and stupid was a toxic high I couldn’t and didn’t want to shake.

I usually could bounce back from a crazy night of drinking and greasy food but this morning I felt terrible. My body weak and shaking, I could feel how dehydrated I was but hesitant to get a glass of water afraid that I would puke it back up.

“What is wrong with me? Shake it off Tammy.”

My hand goes to my stomach, trying to soothe it with a gentle rubbing and tapping. A wave of sadness hits me like a bat in my gut. Stepping into the hot stream the tears that had started to flood my face wash away as quickly as they arrive.

“Oh god,” I whisper. “I’m pregnant.”