I have never been much of a clubbing girl. The media has always portrayed going to a club as an absolute necessity for a college student. Going to college in Boston, I wasn’t able to hit the clubs until I was 21 as many clubs went from 18+ to 21+ my freshman year of college. As such, when I finally turned 21, I was ready to try a 21+ club. I went to a trashy one near the Fenway area and I was incredibly disappointed. The floors were sticky, girls were puking their brains out in the bathroom, creepy guys wouldn’t leave me alone and the place was infiltrated with drunk Red Sox fans. My only saving grace of the night was how one of the guys in my group had paid my cover as he had had a crush on me. I didn’t go clubbing again until I moved to London and I thought that things would be different there. I was wrong. Dead wrong.
A little over a month after I had moved to London three years ago, I went to a club called Oxygen in Piccadilly Circus with the Dandelion, another girl in our cohort named DJ, one of the graduate students at our university, Aleks, and his friend from Florida, Angel. The girls told me the night was “all about [me]” and that they were going to find me a boyfriend. The Dandelion did my makeup and DJ did my hair. DJ lent me her earrings and one of the other interns, David, helped me pick out an outfit. DJ and the Dandelion pre-gamed, but I couldn’t because I hadn’t eaten anything and I don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach.
We all left campus a little after 11:00PM that night and the rest of the night would be fraught with problems. There were the minor things like the bouncer giving me a dirty look for having a Massachusetts ID–even though I was 21 at the time and this club was 18+–, being forced to be the picture-taker and having to lend DJ and the Dandelion money because Oxygen didn’t take credit or debit cards. Sadly, there would be worse things. There was DJ being trashed out of her mind and making a fool out of herself, thus making us look like stupid Americans. There was the fact that DJ was so trashed that as I walked past her, she slapped me across the face. There was the fact that the Dandelion was making out with Aleks in the middle of the dance floor. The worst part, though, was DJ continuing to act foolish and so we had to leave the club. I had to link my arm with hers to help her walk, but she sure had no problem kicking me or stepping on my toes. We all made it back to campus eventually and I remember being so confused at what had transpired that night. But more than being confused, I was angry. Very angry. The night was not about me as DJ and the Dandelion had so proclaimed. The only way I was able to release my frustration was slamming down the Dandelion’s bottle of vodka that she left in my room on the table that she was sitting at.
I don’t like playing Mother Hen. My job is to take care of children, not adults. That night at Oxygen, I should’ve been able to enjoy myself and not worry about having to get all of us home safely or be the one to feed DJ and Angel so that they wouldn’t puke all over the place. I thought I’d feel better by the next night, but I didn’t. DJ and the Dandelion ended up going out by themselves and didn’t ask me to tag along. They said it was because I “didn’t call [them]” but I knew it was because they thought I was a prude for not drinking all the time. The rest of the semester was the same.
I like to drink but I know how to handle my liquor. Since I was around seven-years-old, I would put a trash can by my mother’s bed and fetch her pain pills and soda because I knew what she was like when she drank too much. A child should not have to be doing this. Despite me saying this to DJ and the Dandelion, they weren’t sympathetic. Since the debate ranges on whether substance abuse is due to nature or nurture, I have to be very careful, to this day, about my alcohol intake to make sure I don’t develop a drinking problem. I could talk about that until I was blue in the face but it was lost on DJ and the Dandelion. And, based on what had happened at the bar in New York during Christmas of 2011 (see my post “Last Chance For Forgiveness”) things had not changed with how the Dandelion viewed me.
When I moved to Israel, I told my cohort upfront about my hesitations to go out with them to the bars and the clubs because of what happened in London and also due to my mother. My cohort listened. They understood. They constantly reassure me that they will not stop talking to me, like the Dandelion did, if I take care of them. They tell me that they can handle alcohol like a decent adult would and you know what? They do.
Over the past few weeks, I have been to various bars and clubs with my cohort. I never have to take care of them, minus us getting home together safely. I can finally enjoy myself. It’s a great feeling. It was the same thing with my Birthrighters, too. Even when I had to take care of them, they still talked to me and they thanked me, too. Why couldn’t my London cohort do that? Why has it only been the Americans I have met in Israel? Maybe being done with college is a factor. Maybe being more mature is a factor. I don’t know the answer here, but I’ll take it.
This past Thursday, I finally bit the bullet and headed out to a club in Tel Aviv called Valium with two of my Fellows, Brandon and Michael. This was the first time I had been to a club since my senior year of college. The club was interesting. I enjoyed the music, although I was shocked to see people smoking inside. It’s against the law in the majority of Massachusetts to smoke inside, so I tried to ignore all the cigarettes around me. My night was spent hanging out with a former soldier and we were able to bounce Hebrew and English off of each other. He was kind enough to wait for me in the hallway while I called my best friend, Cassie in the States, bought me a bottle of water and helped me calm down when I couldn’t find Brandon or Michael. Once I did find them, we hopped on a sherut back to the bus station and met an amazing girl, Lesly, from Uruguay, who it turned out lived on our street. We all took a sherut back to Netanya together and when Brandon and Michael went to buy water, Lesly and her cousin walked me home. My Fellows Mhaya and Jade texted me to make sure I got home okay. No one in my London cohort did that.
Friday night I got to go out for Jade’s birthday at a club in Tel Aviv called Clara. What a treat. Our sherut driver drove us to the club (instead of just the bus station) for an extra 100 shekels and myself, Jade, and a few other Fellows headed to the beach to frolic in the sand while we waited to get into Clara. We met a sweet British krav maga instructor-in-training and exchanged emails and then we all finally made it into Clara. Clara was amazing. The music was great and the view of the sea was spectacular. Jade had gotten all of us a table and so we were able to hang out, talk and drink. My two vodkas and cranberry hit me hard and one of the Fellows with us, Ethan, shook my arm to make sure I was okay because I was falling asleep. We called the sherut driver from earlier and he picked us up and dropped us off back in front of our building. Israeli hospitality at its finest.
My Fellows are so unlike my London cohort in more ways than one. Clubbing has been no exception. It’s so nice to be around adults who can handle their liquor intake and not judge me for not wanting to puke my brains out all the time. I constantly ask my Fellow, Dascher, where was she and my other Fellows in college? In London? Why did it take so long for me to find them? Maybe it’s patience. Maybe I needed to have hard times in London to appreciate what I have now. Even if it has taken me years to find my Fellows, I wouldn’t trade them–or this experience in Israel, clubbing and otherwise–for anything. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I’m not going to complain.