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  • I am flying, both hands gripping the steel blade of the ceiling fan, whirling round and round, little flecks of dust hitting my cheeks as I spin high above them all. Below me, they’re looking up, watching, cheering, clinking their glasses together, the sloshing liquid spilling on their hands, some licking it from their skin, laughing as they do.

    The party below is mohair and velvet, plush cushions, vivid sharp wisps of blue-gray smoke, water pipes, shiny vinyl and canvas sized photographs. Men with long hair, bushy eyebrows peeking beneath their Ringo bangs and women in block-print dresses and jarring Italian prints dance in lazy whirls.

    We’re in a loft, windows all around reveal a late summer London skyline. I am a painter and exotic sculptress. I embody the 60’s as I see the blown up magazine cover with my face and those same words from high up, bright white print against the orange tinted cover. They write I shop at Mary Quant, get invited to mythical parties and overflow with talent. I will get my own gallery showing soon.

    I am wearing a Chanel coat, in mint green, and underneath, I am sure, I am wearing a glittering, metallic copper Paco Rabanne mini dress. I look down to see my boots, they are patent leather and match my coat. My hair is coiffed in a high pile of hair spray and coaxing. Heavy, fat, black false eyelashes, feathery at the ends, touch the tops of my cheeks as I spin. A thick, perfect line of periwinkle eyeshadow streaks across my eyelids. My lips are a pale shimmer. The intoxicating scent of my Yardley lipstick takes me straight back to the counter where I bought it, testing every shade on my arm, looking like the striped lipstick tube itself as I floated out the door. I look down to see all the people smiling at me as I spin faster and faster until I can’t hold on any longer, one hand slips, then the other, the air taking me, sending me higher. I fly off the fan, out of the open window and land next to a roulette wheel atop an old bar.

    It’s a movie set, a Western, and I am ready for the first take of my song and dance number atop the painted plywood, all feathers and crimson satin, the black crinoline underneath scratching my fishnet stockinged thighs. My waist is unimaginably tiny and my bosom are swollen mounds of perfect plump flesh, pushed to impossibility by the black corset I am wearing. A fake mole adorns my left breast. My lips are deep blue-red, my hair is dark and lush.

    Perched on my head is a three foot tall, gravity defying hat. Ostrich plumes are dangling off the back of my skirt. It gives me the look of a proud, tailed bird. Everything is Technicolor-colorful, bright fuchsia, red, midnight blue, and yellow—all vibrating and pulsating in different waves. Green, the poor thing, barely makes a move.

    Dancing in a twirl of feathers and ringlets of hair, I am lifted off and then placed gingerly down by two gorgeous actors, dressed in leather vests, chaps and ten gallon hats as I mouth the words to a song. I continue the choreography on the saloon floor, not missing a step or mark. My dancing teacher, Miss Peaches, is there on the set to watch me. Her face a mix of pride and elation as she mimes every move I make; she’s been coaching me since I was four.

    Smiling and singing, everyone on the movie set is looking at me, approval flashing in their eyes. The number is almost over, a fast pace dance sequence begins with me taking turns dancing a precision of quick steps with each of the chorus cowboys, spinning from one to the next with the crescendo of music quickly approaching. Five dancers lift me over to the roulette table where I take the ivory ball from the croupier, flashing my blindingly white smile, and I throw it down watching the spinning ball roll as it lands on 22 black. The last words I mouth of the song are “Lady luck loves a winner.” As I give a wink, I begin to melt out of the dancer’s hands.

    I am now inside the United Nations, facing the circle and inner table of the Security Council. I am Madame Secretary of State. Confident, sleek haired and wrapped tightly in a Brandeis blue jacket and skirt, I am addressing the council. Words come with ease. I watch as they flow from my mouth and over the blond wood table, brown curtains and blue chairs and into the wall-sized painting where they spread out quickly. The Phoenix is awoken by the scampering letters of my words and flies out of the painting and through the hall. My mind is so full sometimes, I can’t easily contain myself. I look around the room to see fellow statesmen, men who I know resent me for being a woman, let alone being here, being who I am. The few other women here know what the men think. We give each other knowing glances. The Phoenix flies back into the painting to remind me of this; beginning to end, with dignity.

    I feel the weight of my earrings as I turn my head to address the council, heavy gold disks adorned with lapis lazuli and the look of them entirely takes over my mind. I speak, unsure of my last words. I touch my earring with my left hand, my forefinger moving around the edge of the gold disk, circling over and over until I feel myself disappear into the painting.

    I’m 11 years old and lying with my head to the edge of the merry-go-round at the park. Hot, humid air fills every breath I take. The sun is blazing down on us, burning at every bit of uncovered skin it can get to. Bigger kids, moving awkwardly in their own bodies, legs splaying about are spinning us as fast as they can run, hoping to make us dizzy and then sick. The sandy dirt under their feet is flying up and hitting my eyes with each step they take. I laugh hard since I like to go fast, round and round. I have my legs up, straight in the air, admiring my bicentennial red, white and blue sneakers stark and dirty against the clean, bright blue July sky; bright white balls of cotton for clouds float along, and I think, it’s all fabulous.
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