That same summer when I discovered Nina Simone, I fell in love with a Puerto Rican man whose pouty lips puckered into a strawberry kiss, whose eyes were limpid pools of liquid brown, cinnamon eyes that you could dive deep down into, like a bottomless well, never wanting to surface.
Those dizzy days of disco, dancing with the beat-beat sound of the music, Sylvester, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summers, the Pointer Sisters, some shrill diva was always crying, in that bar with the hunky bartenders, the go-go boys in g-strings, gyrating, with their crotch stuffed with cash.
We stained ourselves with smoke, with alcohol, fumbling into bed, we slept until noon.
Sometimes late at night, we would listen to Nina sing, her heartaches, bleeding into the bedroom, the mattress on the floor, the unwashed dishes in the kitchen.
We smoked pot, giggling at nonsense, and sometimes, during that quiet lull, I remembered thinking, there’s not much more I need than this. Just this.
The brick wall of his studio in the West Village, those indolent afternoons when we stayed in bed for hours, letting the day seep into dusk, the sound of a car horn, the laughter of some stranger next door.
That champagne light, filtering through the window, how it made the afternoon glow like a halo.
The candy scent of his cologne. The bristle texture of his buzz hair.
Although the music ended for us a long time ago, sometimes, especially late at night, I can still hear a rift of jazz, the echo of disco:
Sylvester is crooning. You make me feel mighty real.
Nina is crying. Wild as the Wind.
If I close my eyes, I can see, the two of us, still dancing, there, under the twirling light of a disco ball, swaying, to the last song, the last dance. The last kiss.