Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dance: Sunday Scribblings

I was 11 and in fifth grade. I was part of the in crowd, true, but I was not the girlfriend type. I was the best girl friend of the boys. My girl friends were their girlfriends. In the Quonset hut at the Air Force Base elementary school, we gathered for dances starting in February. They were probably held monthly. By then, several of the girls and boys were paired up. Pretty, peppy Karen Mobley was going steady with Tim Scott. Tim was dreamy. Tim was my friend. Karen was my friend.

Karen was sick one day. So at the dance party late in the school day, Tim was dancing with me. Because I was his friend. And I was Karen's friend. But I'll never forget dancing with him. It was divine. Even if we didn't dance too close. Even if we didn't dance too close to the slow songs. Even if. Afterward, people were teasing me about not dancing too close to him. I was hurt. But I was cool, and quick on my feet even at that age. "I didn't want to dance too close to him or Karen might be upset."

I'm 14 and a freshman in high school. I've been "dating" a friend's older brother, a 10th grader at an all-boys Catholic school. I'm invited to his school dance. I wear a dark green blouse. I wear a darker green flowered long skirt. I have my aunt paint my fingernails for God's sake. It is not a success. And we don't stay together long at all. Secretly, I think it's because I can't dance.

I'm nearly 16, and my parents are going through a nasty divorce. The one piece of advice, the one shred of explanation my father turns to is that my mother liked to dance. And he didn't. And so they didn't dance. "Learn to dance," he tells me in his morose, alcohol-fueled manner.

I never do dance. Even when I go to my boyfriend's senior prom when I am 16. Even when I go to my own senior prom when I am 17. Or when I go to a formal dance when I am a freshman in college. Even when I am listening to Bruce Springsteen in concert. And almost even when I am at my (first) wedding. For that occasion, my new husband and I danced to one song. And I bopped around to the few Springsteen songs my new (now clearly has to be ex-) husband let me play at our wedding.

Fast forward too many years. I'm a non-dancer at the tender age of 35. My first born son is colicky for several weeks. There is no known cause. There is no known cure. But somehow, listening to loud Bruce Springsteen and rocking out, held tightly to my chest, he calms enough that I do it four hours a night for three weeks. I ache. But I dance. I dance and realize that this must be what dancing is. And I finally know my dad was right. And I'm glad I've learned to dance.

[Sunday Scribblings' scribblers are dancing this week.]

35 comments:

Florinda said...

Sometimes I think kids are the best dance teachers there are. I enjoyed reading this - thanks for sharing!

paisley said...

a chronology of the dance.. i really enjoyed it...

Bren said...

Thanks for sharing your story. Great post!

Jeni said...

I never thought of those movements, rocking my kids to quiet them (actually it was mostly my son who had that requirement) as dance but now that you mention it, guess it was that after all. And it was for me too one dance I could do way better than the ones everyone else did in public. At least that one got the desired results eventually anyway.

Herb Urban said...

Great story! The healing power of Bruce comes through.

tumblewords said...

Nicely told. Enjoyed the read!

forgetfulone said...

That was beautiful writing! I enjoyed your post very much.

Betty C. said...

Even if you're just dancing in the dark...

Robin said...

I think you just finally discovered the right music to get you dancing.

SusieJ said...

Ahhhhh! So sweet. I remember that dance, that rhythm... that soothes not only him, but our ears as well. SusieJ

Crafty Green Poet said...

Glad you learned to dance!

gautami tripathy said...

Dance can soothe us, it is so cathartic..

gautami

Linda said...

Perhaps it just took you that long to find the perfect partner? Funny how our children are capable of making us do things that we haven't been able to do before, isn't it?

Terrific story. Loved it!

Erin said...

That was so, so beautiful. I really loved it.

Amy said...

brilliant!!! i love how you make me look at things so differently. thanks for that story.

Jennifer Hicks said...

oh my - I'm also sooo glad you learned to dance! What tenderness you give yourself each and every time you move those feet to whatever rhythm exists.

m.o.M. said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you.

sister AE said...

you make me glad you learned to dance, too. when you think about it, dance is just rhythmic movement - perhaps our fingers DO dance across the keyboards...

Menopauseprincess said...

I am so glad you learned to dance too.

I was sort of screaming at the monitor: "learn now, it's not too late" and then I came to the end of your lovely story. Wonderful!

Tammy said...

What a journey of dance. Out of the mouths of babes. Well done!

frog ponds rock... said...

I am really pleased that you learned to dance. But then Bruce is good like that...

cheers Kim.

tricia stirling said...

oh, this is such a sweet and unexpected ending. love it.

PJ said...

Loved the story!!! (First time visitor) I'll be back.

D... said...

I really enjoyed this. I am a non-dancer too. When the kids were younger, I would dance silly with them while Daddy was at work. As they get older, it happens less often.

PJ said...

Loved the story!!! (First time visitor) I'll be back.

Lea said...

Beautiful post... all of it a dance of learning to dance over the years...

colleen said...

I don't know how it was that slow dancing was legal. It was very intimate as I remember.

I hope you put some CDs on tomorrow and let it rip!

Toni said...

What a great post; my children were not colicky (thanks be to God for that) but my niece was and I understand that feeling of doing anything to calm the child.

I love that your son taught you to dance. Really a great post, Patty!

dawn224 said...

oh! I think this is wonderful!

Frances at http://blogforth.com said...

I'm envisioning you dancing with your baby.
What a sweet image.
I am sure it created an extra special bond between the two of you.
Waving at you from New York,
Frances
http://blogforth.com

LittleWing said...

whada beautee ... i am so happy you found the dance with your child... my son was colicky for 2 weeks ... finding that special dance in a soothing two step slow mo swing was the only place he found moments of rest ... i'd forgotten all abt it ..thank you for your lovely post...

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Wow, this was such a great post to read. I was always the dancer, but even being good at dance never boosted my self-confidence. It just gave others something to tease me about. I am glad you found that inner rhythm because dancing always feels best when you do it for yourself.

Gina said...

Lovely!

jenica said...

this is FANTASTIC! see, you should have emailed me this one!!! stinker.

have you ever seen house of D? i think you'd like it. your story is beautifully told.

UL said...

Oh I am gald I finally got here, I loved how you took us from a non-dancer to a dancer, the last dance best of all, I have to admit, I am exactly like you...thank you for sharing. And thank you for bringing me here.

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