“Oh là là, c’est la vedette!”
Camille and I did la bise, but I graciously declined her offer of a rolled cigarette (beggars can be choosers in this instance.)
The high ceilings of Aria contained a myriad of pieces: art, furniture, books, homeward and all manner of paraphernalia. But that evening, the only important pieces were that of Camille Walala, neatly tucked into a corner at the front of the store, grinning out onto the street in their multi-coloured brilliance.
Giddily, I run about the room, the extrovert in me needing some stimulation. I meet an interesting couple, two ladies with a gorgeous Afghan, with whom I start a conversation but my attentions are all on my new sharp-toothed friend.
I can’t help but go in for a saucy doggy-smooch with this bouffant-haired beauty, who seems to adore attention just as much as I do. I try speaking Farsi to my new friend “Salaam, doggy jan” and, unimpressed with my limited vocabulary, the Queen of Afghanistan haughtily turns her head from me. I mimic her, vainly attempting to emulate her magnificence.
Doggy wants to go and mingle!
So off doggy goes, leaving me feeling like a sad puppy, feeling rejected from the love of my life.
Never mind – I’ve already moved on, an innocent-looking but minxish little doggy with the most beautiful brown eyes.
I, completely overwhelmed, gush at her owners, asking her name, her hobbies, her star sign.
These minute details disappear into the ether as her gracious owner picks up her little body and puts her into my arms.
Wary of my flamboyant enthusiasm, doggy tenses a little until I kiss her on the forehead and tickle behind her ears.
If doggy purring were a thing, the whole room would hear her satisfaction!
The owners let me have my magic moment before warning me she might need poopsy doops, so they take her from my hand and pop out the doors, her black fur blending into the darkening skies.
“Hmph” I think, looking around at the room of human beings. Delightful as they are, nothing beats a cuddly wuddly furry friend!
The crowd hums with the bubbling chatter of a creative crowd – I flit from group to group, peacocking being a talent of mine.
I see the crowd gather around the bar – the smell of something delicious yet not quite healthy fills our nostrils and it’s indeed delicious offerings of Italian rarebit from Papa John’s.
Swooping like a fast food vulture, I grab a succulent piece of cheesy garlic bread, moaning at the pleasure to anyone who will listen.
I get speaking again to the owner of my canine Afghan queen, discussing our lives, past and current: you went to University of Liverpool? I grew up there! I have so many friends there!
We come to the realisation that my gorgeous friend Claudia and her were party pals in the golden era of Garlands in the late nineties, a bizarre fact that comes not just expectedly but comfortingly, in the knowledge that the friends I’m making and have made are guiding me into more warming friendships, more kind people with whom to share the joy of life!
I look around and see the crowd is dwindling – a dedicated few remain, coats and bags strewn over thousand pound chairs, music bouncing from wall to wall. Love and smiles are thrown across the room, providing a spectacle for onlooking pedestrians outside.
The prosecco, careful not to be spilt, fizzes and pops, pushing the party on into the night.
On the train home, I think to myself – “I think I found my people.”