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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 @ 3:29 pm
The week is a blur. A two-night trip to Calgary for work. Flying home, washing my face, ironing a dress and pulling it on, then turning around to head out to my fourth Lindy hop class. I dance with Glen, Benjamin, Farouk, Jade, Bert, Dave, and others. I approach the Aussie.
“Would you like to dance?” I ask.
“Yes. Nice dress,” he responds. I blush. We dance, practicing swing outs, and he keeps messing it up, and I keep encouraging and telling him it’s OK.
After the class ends, the social dance begins. The lights are dimmed and strings of coloured lights are turned on. I dance with Dave again, and he teaches me some East Coast swing patterns, and he spins me, and the full skirt of my dress floats up.
“See? That’s the fun move that twirls the skirts!” he laughs.
I dance with Gabor. And Eric. And Keith. And then I turn around, and there’s Russell.
We dance together, him promenading me and making a series of tuck turns.
“How was your trip?” he asks, while he has me pulled close. He then swings me out, so there’s a pause. We come back to closed.
“Great!” I have no breath or time to elaborate.
He drives me home, rain pounding against the windshield.
“Both Anna and Nina told me that they were impressed with your dancing after only four lessons.”
We climb together on Friday night. I flash a 5.10d. He is working on a project, and we hang off opposite ends of the rope while he rests. I swing around, my feet barely touching the mats, and he hangs halfway up the wall, studying the route. He looks down. I look up. We smile at each other. The music in the gym is turned up, and I’m filled with contentment. There’s no place else I’d rather be.
On Saturday afternoon, I head back to the climbing gym and meet up with four girls. I teach Ali to tie her figure eight and belay her up a series of easy routes. It’s fun to teach her, and her focus and determination are admirable. Steph encourages me as I work past a trouble spot on a route. We all stand around at the end, making plans for a regular climbing night. I have friends.
Saturday night, the swing dance at the Roundhouse to a live jazz band.
“You should come,” he says, while he serves me tacos that he prepared for us for dinner. “You’ll have no problem.”
We meet Danica and Nina for cocktails beforehand. We walk over to the venue, and as we near I can hear the music and see the people inside dancing. It’s beautiful and cosmopolitan yet old fashioned. We enter the foyer, and I hang my coat on a hook.
We walk onto the dance floor. Russell takes my hand. My heart pounds. All of the dancers are so good. And then we are in among them dancing, and I forget about comparisons and just have fun. I laugh and add little bits of flare to my dancing. The music moves through me, and the perfection of the moment is overwhelming.
I dance with a series of other men. One of the men leads me in East Coast 6-count, and I deploy what Dave taught me, and it works. The man is wearing suspenders and is playful and we make long eye contact and have these conversations with facial expressions.
At the end of the night, the band plays some slow jazz. Russell finds me and pulls me close, and we dance through the moves at half time and with our bodies pressed against each other. His cheek against mine, and his breath down my neck. Our hips moving together.
On Sunday morning, we meet friends at the ice rink. I pull on my white leather figure skates, cinching the cotton laces tight up around my ankles.
We step out onto the ice, and I see that he is a good skater. After a few laps, I find my legs and play around with skating backwards and little jump turns.
“I wonder if you can swing dance on skates?” he says to me.
I reach over and take his hand. I spin around to skate backwards in front of him and frame up into dance position. We are moving across the ice, and he looks at me and raises and eyebrow to ask if I’m ready for what comes next. I feel pressure on my back from his hand, and I shift to spin around, and he moves right where he should be, then I find myself swinging out. He tugs my hand, and I come back to him, my hand back on his shoulder, and we spin around back to where we started. I can’t believe it. It works. We do it again. And again.
Endlessly surprised at how we move together, how much fun we have together.
Who was the woman who did not fight for this man? Who let the relationship rot into nothingness. Who was she who did not appreciate his generosity, his adventurousness, his easy smile?
I fear the moment that I take him for granted.
I fear the moment that I take life for granted.