When life boots me out of this world, and my life flashes before me on my way out the door, which days, which moments will be highlighted? I'm pretty sure that yesterday afternoon will be one of them.
My brother usually comes by our house every other Saturday to pick up the bills, whatever items we have picked up on sale for him (diet sodas, energy bars, cereal, etc), pet the kitties he left with us, dig through his files that are still here, and see how we're doing. On Wednesday, he emailed me that he was leaving for Austin and would be there the rest of the week, mentioning that his knees were hurting unusually badly. So Saturday, my very considerate husband suggested that he drop everything off because my brother was probably wanting to stay home after being out of town. So I called and made the offer. "ACCEPTED" J. said joyously. Then I decided I'd go along, because I wanted to see my brother's face and get my hug. I also wanted to wish my sister-in-law Happy Birthday and give her the chocolate bar we bought her at ALDI. No matter that her birthday is Monday the 15th.
When we arrived, my amazing sister-in-law was crouched in her front bed weeding. When we arrived, she went to the door to call to my brother, who came out and sat on the stoop with me. The four of us talked about quotidian stuff. How the acorns that fall on the lawn never seem to sprout, but every one that falls in our flower beds sprouts. Somehow we started doing little things in the yard. The guys raked the rest of the lawn. I pulled some oaks out of the bed nearest me while my sister in law worked on the other side of the porch. Then my husband and SIL were bagging the leaves while my brother and I talked about his trip to Austin, where he stayed and reminisced about my first apartment there. Then while we all talked about my step nephew's little fender bender -- as my brother put it, it would really have been minor except for what he hit, a brand new Lamborghini-- my husband started pulling baby oaks to my left, my SIL on my brother's right, while my brother kept calling the two of them "baby oak killers."
Yesterday was the first truly casual visit to their house. No holiday dinner, no birthday celebration, just Saturday chores. We spent a couple of hours there, just being family together. Then we left, stopping at the local Trader Joe's to see what they have and the prices. Way too crowded at that hour, but we did pick up a candy mint and a pineapple mint we didn't have. I think I'll call and find out when they have the least traffic before I go back.
All in all, it was for me a wonderful, casual, relaxed day that I will put in my memory box with the childhood family beach days, and family road trips, summer evenings with family while the adults talked, and we kids ran about chasing fireflies and tossing stones in the air to see the bats swoop in after what they thought were big juicy bugs. Days spent surrounded by those we love, doing nothing but being together.
I went out shopping Saturday. Started off at IKEA. Spent most of the day there, actually. Ate breakfast for free, then went in search of the woman I've been trying to talk to for two weeks about the last cabinet for my bathroom redo. Still have not connected and that's beginning to irk me a good bit. Just how many times am I supposed to leave a message for someone without getting a call back before I begin to sniff something unpleasant in the air? That's not the point of this blog, though.
Couple of additional errands there were on my agenda: legs for the three bathroom cabinets, and a foray into my favorite part of IKEA, the AS IS room. Ended up missing out on a $32.50 6' bookcase by dithering about whether to get it or not. Oh well, no doubt the universe has a better bookcase in mind for me.. We headed back to the restaurant for lunch (buy one entree, get one free). When that was done, we got to watch some young dancers in traditional dress do Bollywood dancing.. Then they asked for volunteers to take a lesson, the one voted best by the audience would win a gift card to IKEA. A young girl maybe 7 or 8 next to us started to volunteer and then nerves got the best of her and she retreated. I wanted to hold up my hand and volunteer to do the best "chair version" of it that I could...if she would come with. My husband wasn't crazy about the idea of me wheeling out there and making a fool of myself, so I didn't volunteer. I told him later why I wanted to do it.
Instead, when the lesson started, I found myself suddenly and copiously overwhelmed with tears. When I was three years old, the Ballet de Russe de Monte Carlo came to Houston. That was when I decided I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up. My parents looked around and found a teacher who would take me at that age. After a couple of years, I started studying dance at Margo Marshall's school. When puberty hit, rather than the long and lean lines of a ballet dancer, I had the rounder figure of a Vegas showgirl or a Rockette, but not the height. I realized my future was not in professional dance, but the love of dance and motion never left me. I continued dancing as a hobby, adding ballroom and belly danciing to the ballet, tap, modern, and what was called "stage dancing" (musicals, rockette, showgirl style).
My deep dark secret? When disco dancing bloomed, I was in heaven. There was a club on Richmond, just west of 610, where backgammon and disco ruled. I forget the name of it now. I went there one night with a group from my second job, at Stouffer's Hotel on IH 59 in the Village area. There were only a couple of guys in our group, but they both had "old school" manners and danced with every woman at the table. At the close of my second dance, a fellow tapped me on the shoulder as I started to leave the dance floor and asked me to dance. The tune was Donna Summers Last Dance.. We were pure magic together on the dance floor. I totally lost myself in the dance., feeling that he and I were alone on the dance floor. When the song ended, I realized we WERE alone on the dance floor, and the audience was applauding. Couple by couple, they had vacated the floor to watch us move. My friends later told me that we were mesmerizing to watch. For several weeks, he and I danced together, there, at after hours clubs, and once in a little place that served breakfast, and nobody but my group was in the place. The music came out of a jukebox. There, we had a huge empty space in which to dance, and we filled it. When we finally tired, the restaurant staff was standing around watching. Even the kitchen staff had come out.
Never since have I danced so well with anyone. He was Colombian, and married. Our relationship revolved totally around dancing together. We never went to dinner or a movie or had a formal date.We just showed up at the club and danced together until dawn spread pink and gold tentacles over the city. Then one night, he didn't show up. I never saw him again. His name I have also forgotten. What I have not forgotten was the feel of moving with him, of the perfect wordless communication of our bodies. For those few weeks, I was the dancer I had dreamed of being, the one everyone watched and wanted to be. I shall ever be grateful to him for giving me that, because I don't think I could have ever had it without him.
What had me in tears today was the deep burning desire to learn Bollywood dancing, to feel the music in my soul and set it free in motion. My body just cannot do that any more. For that physical imprisonment, I wept.