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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 @ 2:30 pm
We spend the weekend in Gore-tex jackets, slipping in and out of various venues across the city, jumping over wide puddles and huddling together under a black umbrella.
We go into a bar between shows and order a platter of oysters, freshly shucked and brimming with their briny liquor. He presses his damp leg against mine, and I put my hand on his arm. A sous-chef walks behind us with a chafing dish of three clattering live crabs.
We watch a Vaudeville variety act. We watch a one-man show about travelling. We watch a one-woman show about answering machines. We go to a show that is a walking tour, and rain falls from the sky in great heaves. I put down my umbrella and let the rain fall on my face, this quintessential Vancouver weather, the city grey and disappearing intermittently in blowing wafts of fog.
We go into the beer garden and there’s a band playing. We push chairs out of our way and dance together, rain pounding on the roof of the longhouse shelter, the marimba and steel drums competing with the thunder of the pelleting rain. His hips against mine.
We pile into the back of a taxi, soaking wet. We eat donairs at 1 am, standing under a dripping awning, filling my drunken belly with something solid to anchor my footing.
We sleep in a tangled pile. In the middle of the night, I run my hand down his leg and he rolls over and what follows is unplanned and intoxicating.
“I worry sometimes,” I tell him, “that I am too forward. That I initiate more than you.”
“No, never. I love that you initiate. Don’t stop.”
The next evening, we walk out along the seawall in the dark to debrief. We are alone in the rain on the seawall. He does a tap dance routine with his umbrella. How did I end up here, with this man? Who else dances in the rain in this city?
The next day, the weather breaks and we cycle out east towards a venue in East Van.
We stop along the way to go climbing. I pass my lead test and proudly lead two routes then demolish a route that’s been a problem for me for a week. I hug him and smile and am so happy and grateful for all of this. For him.
“When you finish a climb and look down at me from the top and smile - that’s the best thing ever,” he says.
After climbing, we lock our bikes outside a brewery to lubricate ourselves for the next show. In the historic theatre, we sit close together in the tiny upholstered seats. We watch modern dancers gyrate and flow across the old wooden stage. I watch him surreptitiously to see which parts elicit a reaction, emotions from him.
At the end of the weekend, I go home alone, my hands sore and the calluses on the ends of my fingers peeling off in thin layers. I light candles and push my yoga mat aside. I pull on my ballet slippers. The canvas hugs my feet, perfectly fitting into my arches. I put on a piano opus and let the music flow through me, my body a conduit for the sound.
This here is me. The curve of my arm, the lean length of leg muscle. My heart beating and my breath coming quick. I dance in the salty offshore wind, giant cedars leaning against each other behind me. I practice pirouettes and watch my reflection in the glass. The gentle thumps of my feet on the hardwood. I turn one way then the other, practicing both sides, my arms gently holding a sphere of love in front of me.
The men. The men will come and go. I will taste them, touch them, love them. In loving them, and in allowing them to love me, I am full and free.