I never thought that I’d go to the high school prom four times, especially when I’d already gone three times by the time I was 18. But I just went to prom again. Age: 26.

Okay, it didn’t really happen like that. I mean, I did go to prom at the age of 26, and it was my fourth prom (I was asked to the prom as a sophomore by my asshole boyfriend at the time) — but it wasn’t really like “going to the prom.”

My hair wasn’t done, I had no dress, that kind of thing.

No, the fourth time I went to the prom, I actually crashed it in a tiny Colorado town after camping in central Colorado the night before and not wanting to sleep outside again because the weather warned snow, and the wind was whipping like ends of a skirt on a jitterbug dancer.

I guess you could say, “it wasn’t really planned.”

Instead of wearing an evening gown, I was wearing a pair of old Crocs and wool socks. I stunk of late night whiskey shots and camp fire from the night before. And I was wearing the same jeans that I wore to work the Friday before, then slept in, then woke up in, then squatted and peed in the woods in, then rock climbed in, then sat in the dirt and drank an IPA in, then drove to this tiny Colorado town in.

“You wanna go to prom?” said a brand new friend, whose name I couldn’t yet remember. We were sitting in her living room, refugees from the bitter cold outside. She said she was an intern at the mountain lodge that prom was being hosted at. Her job was to do housekeeping for 8-10 hours per day for the Christian campers who wanted to pray to Jesus and also go rafting on the Colorado River.

“Prom?” I said.

“Yeah prom!” she said, lighting up like she was just asked by her crush with a bouquet of roses.  When she wasn’t housekeeping for campers, she volunteered as a cheerleading coach at the high school and knew some of the local girls going. She wanted to see their dresses.

I was less enthusiastic.

“I’m wearing Crocs and socks,” I said, wondering if that was even the worst part of my crumbling outfit and stenching self. I silently regretted not wearing underwear to work on Friday.

“Just take the socks off,” she said. And since I couldn’t really protest her good advice —and I can’t say no to adventure— we decided to go crash the prom.

In total, there were five of us: me, my friend Alexa who knew the Christian camp housekeeper through her sister, the Christian camp housekeeper herself, and a married couple named Brian and Bosia. Bosia is from Poland.  I met both of them the night before at the camp fire.

We were a fairly big group compared to the 40 students (total) at the Buena Vista 2014 prom. The dance was set up in the largest room at a sort of mountain lodge. White Christmas lights lit up the dance floor, and snacks filled bowls on a table along the wall. Every girl wore a full length gown, and I wondered how much money they all spent on their shoes since no one could see them.

As for our group, we stripped our dirt-lined jackets at the foyer and stashed them behind a bench.

The DJ was playing “pop-lock-and-drop-it,” as we entered. It’s a song I distinctly remembered them playing at my senior prom. And the memories started flooding in. Like, I remembered that I also didn’t wear underwear to my senior prom because it showed panty lines in my dress. But this wasn’t just a flashback to my hometown and 18-year-old self.

No, this was real life — and there was the high school prom king making out with a curvy little thing in a tight red dress.

“Awesome!” Bosia shouted. This was her first American-style prom. She threw her hands into the air, twisted her tiny waist and merged into the sea of sequence and boutonnieres. The rest of us looked at each other apprehensively, but followed her onto the dance floor, stepping into prom number 4.

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