Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Glitter Fabulous and Gone

Last month the Disco Diner closed here in Atlanta. It was one of those things I always thought about when I thought of this town - a strange purple and white A-frame sitting on the corner of North and Juniper, serving breakfast at all hours. A decade ago, this was Atlanta for me - driving down to shop for things you couldn't get in Nashville, watching drag and dancing at Backstreets, people watching at the Disco Diner. Atlanta always seemed to be a midnight place full of drunkeness and fun and greasy food, a place where the glitter fabulous from all over the South washed up at 4a.m. because, well, where else would you be at 4am? It's not like we had much by way of alternative; no, if you were from any of the four surrounding states, Atlanta was the midnight party destination you fought to find gas money for.

Sure, the techno/disco/glamrock Atlanta of a decade ago was pretty gay. Some of my friends were gay, but not the majority of us. We drove to the gay venues of Atlanta for the same reason our Grandparents drove here to go to black venues 50 years earlier. Because our own culture and clubs were boring as hell, and all the good artistic breakthroughs in a society happen in the margins of what is considered acceptable. I guess in 2006, where one of the top-grossing movies out is Brokeback Mountain, that it's just time the glitter-fabulous Atlanta moved on to that great party graveyard in the sky. Boys kissing on the dance floor can't be as thrilling to younger kids as it was to me; they've seen it all already. And I am soon to be thirty, and heavily pregnant. I'm not allowed to be edgy and cool anymore.

The Atlanta I knew from my young adulthood is gone. The laws passed a little over a year ago restricting bars and personal smoking habits in public places have closed Backstreets and, by extension, now the Disco Diner and a bunch of other places that catered to the after midnight crowd. Some venues have re-opened in The Underground, and maybe right now there's a younger version of me rhapsodizing about how wonderful Atlanta is after a night of partying there. I can devote a little time to eulogizing it here, but honestly, the baby kicks so much now that I can't even plan a farewell party for a time that I loved. Years ago, the death of glitter-fabulous would have been an occasion for a theme.

I should not complain about the city changing so much when I have changed as well. One of my core beliefs used to be "work hard, play harder", by which I meant that I would work on 10 hour, 12 hour workday binges for a couple of weeks at a stretch, and then crash for a few days or maybe even a week into a few days and nights of parties. This strategy got me great grades and a shiny Master's degree and I was happy for a while. But on this day last year - Valentine's Day, for chrissakes - I was in GoddamnMiami working instead of at home for my first Valentines with my new husband. I booked that business trip because I felt manipulated into it by a supervisor who thought Valentine's was a stupid day. And I remember sitting in a hotel room by myself wondering how I ended up in Miami, a city I hate more than any other, when I should have been at home curled around my husband. It was insane, the misplaced priorities of a workaholic. I will admit that the excesses of my glitter-fabulous times in Atlanta were destructive. But the alcohol, the weed, the excessive sex were all easy to give up as my body got older and started to object to rough treatment.

The excessive work? I have yet to entirely kick the habit. But I'm getting better now at saying no to projects that would increase my prestige but run me ragged. I will be home on time from work for Valentine's this year. The husband and I will go to a restaurant that we normally don't allow ourselves to afford, and I will be at home curled up with the love of my life by 10 pm. If my dreams are sprinkled with glitter dust and rememberances of hair dyes past, it is because I spent my younger days well, and I am glad I live here near where I have always been most happy.