Did last night really happen? When I woke up this morning, everything was just as it should be—the cat was fed, my glasses were next to my pillow, the sky was blue. Last week I had a dream in which a foul-mouthed Steve Gutenberg asked me questions about my Peace Corps experience. That was a dream. But all of the evidence today points to the stirring possibility that what I remember of last night actually took place.
The night began unremarkably: a bunch of us met up at the Peace Corps nightclub du jour, Y-Not, for drinks and conversation. I played poorly in a game of pool, watched some of the replay of the Fiji-Samoa rugby game from yesterday, and commiserated with a few other Americans over the USA’s loss to Ghana in the World Cup. When the waitress came around to announce Last Call, I was sitting at a table with Blakey and her Fijian ex-pat friend, shooting the breeze.
Blakey’s friend, who had not been drinking, has a car, and even though I live walking distance from the club, I graciously accepted a ride home. On the way, we stopped to pick up some kekepua’a at a faleo’oloa, where Blakey ran into yet another of her friends. “Something’s going on at The Spot,” the faleoloa friend said.
I should stop and say that “The Spot” is not the name of the place. Truthfully, I don’t know the name of the place. I’d never been there before, and I’d have no idea how to get there again. The fact that I don’t know the name only adds to the mystique and illusory feel of last night.
In any case, someone knew where The Spot was, and we went.
Ever since the Road Switch, bars and nightclubs in Samoa close at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. But for whatever reason, The Spot opened around 1:00 a.m. As is usually the case, we were one of the first groups to arrive. Peace Corps often tend to be the awkward kids that miss the memo about arriving fashionably late.
The Spot is a sprawling house up the mountain. A large wooden patio outback had a breathtaking view of the Apia Harbour, and a baby grand piano sat regally in the entryway. We sat at a table on the patio, chatting and taking in the view.
As people began to arrive, it became clear the guests were a veritable who’s who of Apian young adults. The party had the feel of chic secrecy; like the people in our car stumbled on a surreptitious gathering of Apia’s ruling class. It was somewhere between the Springfield Stonecutters and the secret model party George snuck into on Seinfeld. Among other glitterati, there was the guy from the Digicel commercials ubiquitous on Samoan TV, the attractive bartender from Y-Not, and the guy known as DJ OK.
There was mingling and dancing. I saw a guy playing guitar next to the baby grand, so I sat down and accompanied him on piano for a bit (I was horrible. Really rusty.). Several times he brought out an electric guitar tuner as if to check if he was the one who was hitting the wrong notes. It was a charade to help me save face, and I appreciated it.
The party went on into the night. I think we left around 4:00 a.m.
The whole thing felt fleeting and dreamlike. Even if I knew where the place was and I was to go back this afternoon, I feel like there’d be nothing but a dingy, abandoned house with missing floorboards and dustcovers on the furniture.
And amid all the rubble, there’d be an electric guitar tuner.
I hope you’re well.
4 weeks ago