Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 @ 11:52 am
We walk into the vintage cocktail bar, a cinder-block dive bar at the edge of the resort area. The dance floor is filled with couples dancing, and they are all doing things that I know how to do. The common language of a dance style. I order a gin and soda, and we pile our jackets on a couch in the corner of the lounge.
A tall, strong man asks me to dance. He’s black, and I’m intimidated but say yes anyhow. He leads me, and I can follow most of what he’s doing, but I’m so nervous. I eventually let go a bit and smile and laugh, and then he leads a looping series of turns and twists that is fluid and fun and utterly beautiful. I never want it to end.
I dance with Russell and another man and then Russell again. My ruffle-hem dress, the gin on my breath. There are people who just sit on the side and watch. That was me three months ago.
We leave the Mint and walk towards the strip, wait at the intersection to cross. We start to dance at the same time, side-by-side Charleston, executing the kick through successfully, laughing and falling against each other. A car honks. We dance across the intersection, and then on the other side, on the wide sidewalk in front of the flashy resort hotel, we dance Lindy hop to silent music. He turns me and does a new move, which makes me laugh, and we are fluid and the ruffle hem of my short dress spins out. Another car honks. A woman standing out of the sunroof of a limo calls out from across the street, “You two are SO BEAUTIFUL. I love you guys!”
I stand at the foot of a crag, towering red sandstone.
“I want to lead this. I am intimidated and scared, but I need to work through this.”
“OK. I know that you can do this,” he says.
I start the climb, clip into the first piece. Find a foothold, move up, and clip into the second piece. Legs already shaking.
“You’re safe now. Just climb. You’ll do great.”
Halfway up, I hang on the rope. My breathing is ragged, my heart racing. I let my limbs hang limp, and I lean my helmeted head against the hot red sandstone. I gather up everything inside of me. If I fall, I will be OK. It’s OK to fall. I look up and plan my route. Move up. Hand. Foot. Foot. Hand. Hand. Foot. Hand. I mantle over the edge at the top. I yell out in celebration, and my voice echos around in the canyon.
We eat tacos at 1am at a divey place on the strip. We wander the chaos of Freemont Street. We hike in the desert, and I press my cold nose into his neck and kiss him, the landscape expansive around us, a wind blustering our jackets. I watch him play blackjack for a half hour and walk away with exactly what he started with. I put a dollar bill into a vintage slot machine and pull the handle. We sit closely at a piano bar, and he runs his hands on my thighs and tells me that my legs are cute and soft. We play skee ball and ring toss in the arcade. We dance on the AstroTurf lawn of a beer garden. We eat cheese and crackers sitting on warm sandstone as the sun sets. We stand together under the shower in a small-but-fancy hotel room. We drink coffee together in the queen-sized bed and remark at how luxurious it feels, compared with our sad double beds at home. He kisses my neck, my collarbones, runs his hands down the length of my spine.
His hand in mine. My hand in his.
It’s all so easy.
So easy to feel happy.