Saturday night, my boyfriend J convinced me to go out.

I’d spent the day with Southern Belle C, helping him put together what was sure to be the murder mystery party of the century. (We bopped around Chelsea for hours, searching for costumes at Housing Works thrift shop, props at Abracadabra and invitations at Paper Presentation.) He told me my character early (Freda, a gypsy), and I’d already purchased my costume (a full silk satin fantasy from the Prada 2007 collection, turban and all), so I was able to focus on helping him pull everything together.

I didn’t have time to change, showing up in a crop top, denim overall shorts and my Coach backpack, a Lindsay Clan plaid shirt tied around my waist. (Fun fact: I’m Scottish, Clan of Lindsay, I just haven’t had any occasion to wear my kilt to yet.)

Everyone arrived by 11, and the bar was in full swing. I had no idea what to expect: Despite the fact that Boxers has been popular enough to spawn locations in Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, The Upper East Side and now Washington Heights, I didn’t know if a gay bar so far uptown would do well.

But by 12, the bar was shoulder-to-shoulder packed, our animated host Zarria Van Wales dancing around and keeping spirits up. (I wished she was doing a show that night: I’m way better at cheering for drag queens doing the splits than dancing myself.) Despite her energy, something in me switched off.
Everyone was dancing and having fun—but I wasn’t having fun anymore. The drinks were strong and bitter, I couldn’t move without hitting someone and people kept bumping my backpack. (Who the fuck is stupid enough to bring a backpack to a bar on a Saturday night? …Me, that’s who.)

At one point, it became too much, and I felt claustrophobic. I slipped through the crowd onto the upper platform, by the front door, and managed to snag a seat in a booth to take a breather.

I desperately wanted to be the fun one. I used to be the fun one: the one who insisted everyone go out when they were tired, the one who bopped from bar to bar, doing bumps in bathrooms to make it to 4 a.m., and that’s when the after-party began.

But now, just 28, barely past midnight, I was tired and grumpy, and I wanted to go home.

So I left, slowly walking the 10-block walk home, listening to Fleetwood Mac. Is this me now? I wondered, waiting for a streetlight to change. Am I having an off night, or have I outgrown going out and having fun? Is this what it feels like to get older?

“But time makes you bolder, even children get older—and I’m getting older, too.” Stevie Nicks gets me.

My boyfriend stumbled in around 3 a.m., drunk and happy and young enough to not be hungover the next morning. A little jealous, I helped him get off his jeans and into bed before he passed out.

I vowed to go back to Boxers Washington Heights on a weeknight, after work, when I could have a quiet drink at the bar, without having to dance or stay up past my bedtime—once 6 a.m., now 10 p.m.—10:30 if the chapter of the book I’m reading is too good to put down.