I wasn’t a graceful kid. In fact, Mama rather sarcastically called me “Grace” until well after I entered high school. I had quite the complex for a number of years, and then suddenly, I didn’t anymore. Maybe it was because I watched someone move who truly looked like they shouldn’t and figured I couldn’t possibly do any worse. Or maybe I saw a heavy person dancing and thought they looked great; if they could make it look that good, maybe I could, too. Then again, it could’ve been Mama herself who changed my mind. Every time I visited home or she came to visit me, she always made sure we took time to dance a couple songs. I’m sure it went to my head — my mama is quite the little dancer. She grew up taking every kind of dance class known to man, and she learned to dance the “boy” parts as well or better than the “girl” parts. Years later, as an adult, she kept dancing, and did her best to teach all four of us kids. Given the opportunity and time, I have no doubt that she could’ve been a world class choreographer. Instead, she chose to dance with me.
I’m lacking in that kind of dance-generating creativity, but I feel like I can move all right. Of course, it helps that I’m not attempting anything particularly rigorous or precise. When I dance, it’s usually around the kitchen when I’m cooking; it’s freeing and relaxing, and usually I’m drinking so I don’t give a good goddamn. I think of it like the back-float; I just trust it and melt into it and whatever happens, happens.
In the 13 years before I moved back home, I watched a lot of couples dance together, and I spent more time than I’d care to admit daydreaming about a day I thought would never come. One day, I wanted to dance like those people. Only it wasn’t their skill I coveted; I wanted their relationship. What a wonder it would be to only have to look across the table for someone to dance with. What an amazement to be taken repeatedly into arms that I knew as well as my own and trusted even more. I wanted to be led. I wanted to be loved out in the open, with everyone watching.
There’s a festival happening this weekend in our little town, and there’s music booming from speakers half a mile away. It’s clear enough even from this distance that identifying the song isn’t difficult. Tonight, we were outside visiting, and when we stood up to go back inside, I grabbed Hubby in an around-the-neck hug and started slow dancing. The band across town was playing “Hotel California,” and though it might be difficult for non-band geeks to find the beat, we weren’t struggling. He stopped too quickly — much too quickly for me — and repeated his promise that next year we’d go to the festival. Next year, he wouldn’t be working all weekend. Next year we’d dance. I promise, baby. I promise.
The thing is, I don’t need a festival. I don’t even want a festival. Turn on the radio and take me to the kitchen. Pull me around the room and stumble and laugh with me as we try unsuccessfully to avoid the nosy ass cats under our feet. I don’t need or want an event. I just want you for a few minutes. Just you. Just us.
Because it’s more than just a dance. It’s working together. It’s a physical representation of our mutual love of music and of one another. It’s wonder and joy and happiness that costs absolutely nothing and makes you feel like nothing else. And I know all of that because I’ve been dancing for most of my life, for exactly those reasons. My mama taught me, and she’s smarter than anyone else I know when it comes to the important stuff.