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My final wedding of the year took place in New Jersey last Friday night, for a girl that I suppose I have to describe as a “work friend,” but truly she’s so much more. We worked together while I was at my last firm, and we’ve stayed close – she always joked I’d be invited to the wedding, but it was still a(n awesome) surprise to receive the official invite in the mail a few months back. I mean, she easily could have given the invite to another distant family member, another friend of her husband’s, but she chose to have me there, and I couldn’t have been more honored. Terrified, to be fair, as I made my way down the hotel elevator to the shuttle bus alone, feeling the full weight of knowing not a single soul at that wedding, but honored and excited all the same.

My fears of basically crashing a wedding with an invitation were totally unfounded, and within three minutes of sitting on the bus, I’d made a friend, and I kept meeting awesome, fun, wonderful new people all night, who embraced me as their own and did their best to make sure I had fun. I looked around at one point at the afterparty, and realized it felt almost comfortable. It felt like I was supposed to be there, like I’d known everyone there for years and maybe it wouldn’t have been the same if I weren’t there. I’m sure it would have been – or perhaps everyone was just blinded by my sequined pants. But it felt that way nonetheless.

Two days later, in an attempt to sweat out the rest of my hangover from the most aggressive partying I’ve done since my very early single days (#jersey), I went to a Bikram yoga class in Harlem and found myself meditating on the fact that I hadn’t felt that in a really long time, like maybe it would have been different if I weren’t there. It’s a hard feeling to explain – it’s not that I’m linking that statement to a particular occasion or even group of friends or family. But to be so wholly embraced by these strangers as a friend, to have the bride single me out in a wedding of nearly 200 people for a dance and many selfies, just to feel like I was with a group of people that were so happy I was there, it all felt foreign, in a great and terrible way.

Replaceable. We replace our dishes, we replace our clothes, we replace our apartments and we replace our friends. Sometimes we grow out of things or we break them, sometimes things outgrow us or walk away. Everything, mostly, is replaceable, whether we want to believe that or not; it’s nice to think we’re all going to live in the same place forever and we’re going to work the same job forever and we’re going to be best friends forever, but when you account for all the growing up we do in such short periods of time, it makes sense that sometimes we just need to move on. Imagine reading the same book over, and over, and over, doing the same thing over, and over, and over. Eventually it’s time for a new book, because the old one is worn out or you don’t like it anymore. Lately I’ve felt like that book, worn out and no longer relevant. Replaceable, if you will.

I stopped by to see my M&N, the newlyweds, after work this week so I could catch them up on the juicy wedding details, and she made a comment that’s stuck with me. After I mentioned how much fun I’d truly had, despite not knowing anyone, she laughed and said “of course you did! It was the first wedding this year where you could basically just turn up and say I’M HERE!” She meant it more like I wasn’t on bridesmaid/maid-of-honor duty for the first time, but I heard it on a different level. The wedding was a blank slate. I was a blank slate, page one of a new book. All the bullshit of the past six months, two years, five years, ten years, no one knew any of it. No one knew who I used to be, no one knew what it took me to become this person.

They just knew me as me. The Me now, this me that I’m carrying with me into 2016. It was a new page in the Book of LB, a blank slate, replacing the prejudices of the past two, five, seven years and starting over. And it felt nice to be on Page One of something again. In fact, I’d say that feeling is irreplaceable.

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The Tale of the Sequined Booty Shorts

Once upon a time, a naive 22-year old was trying to pull together a last-minute costume while still adjusting to New York City in a tiny apartment that she shared with a stripper and at least a few mice. Recently out of college, and sorority crafting skills still fresh on her mind, she decided to capitalize on the then-booming career of a pop star named Ke$ha and pay tribute to her unique style on Halloween night. She had almost everything she needed for the look, including a ripped t-shirt that was eventually drenched in glitter, crazy makeup and crazier hair, and even some absurd faux fur accessories. The one thing she needed was a good pair of shorts to pull the whole thing together.

After an intense visit to the Union Square Forever 21, and fighting fiercely with a few scrappy teenagers, she finally found the perfect pair of $12 black sequined booty shorts, just small enough to add a little raciness to the pop star ensemble, and just adult enough that her ass cheeks weren’t hanging out, though that likely wouldn’t have mattered in the costumed city streets. The shorts were perfect that night, and once she returned home, she tucked them carefully in the bottom of her dresser, not willing to part with them to Goodwill (or the trash can) just yet, but not confident she’d ever actually wear a pair of black sequined booty shorts ever again.

The next year, while brainstorming with her lovely friend as to what they could be for Halloween, she remembered the shorts that had laid forgotten in her drawer for nearly a year. “Why not plan something where I can wear these again,” she mentioned to her friend, “since they were so perfect and comfortable last year!” And thus, the saga of the shorts began. After debuting as Ke$ha, the shorts evolved into part of a Jazzercise uniform, complete with leg warmers, headbands and sweet dance moves, despite the freak snowstorm that nearly shut down Halloween in 2011. In 2012, the shorts came back out of hiding to spoof the ongoing NFL replacement referee hilarity, paired with a ref jersey, knee socks and fake penalty flags, which she and her lovely friend (they had dressed up together again) threw in conflict throughout the night. In 2013, the shorts were meant to be a part of a ringmaster costume (with whip and everything!), but the confusion over which weekend was “Halloween” weekend in the city meant our protagonist didn’t do anything for Halloween, returning all the parts of the costume she’d purchased, save for those sequined shorts. It was scary how well they managed to hold up over the years, despite two moves and countless questionable Halloween decisions, but by 2014, the shorts were still going strong, nary a sequin out of place from their original debut in 2010.

The fifth Halloween finally rolled around, and our now 26 year-old started brainstorming what else she could do with the wondrous shorts. Perhaps something like Harley Quinn? Maybe a modified cheerleader outfit? Maybe a disco bumblebee! Sadly, none of these ideas clicked, and after weeks of brainstorming, she finally had to take a long, hard look at the World’s Longest-Lasting Item of Clothing from Forever 21. The sequined booty shorts had weathered a Halloween snowstorm and many dances on bars; they’d lasted through countless parties and drinks spilled everywhere around them. The shorts danced Jazzercize style in front of many, many strangers and got some of them to join in, and threw makeshift penalty flags at innocent bystanders, claiming Party Foul. The shorts had far outlasted the $12 they’d cost, and they made some pretty fantastic Halloween memories in their many years of service.

The shorts were laid to rest as a Halloween staple on October 30, 2014. They’d done their job admirably, and it’s really scary that they managed to last as long as they did. So rest in peace, greatest Halloween purchase ever. May the memory of our main character’s ass covered in sequins live in infamy, and in photos on Facebook.

The End. Happy Halloween everyone!