February, 1999. San Francisco

My boyfriend doesn't like swing dancing. Luckily I have a new male friend, someone who was an acquaintance in college, who does.

My friend and I meet at the Metronome Ballroom or Cafe du Nord, take the free class, practice some new steps and wait for the band to start up and the real fun to begin. We arrive separately, often bring friends, because we are not dating and there is safety, clarity, in numbers.

(I definitely don't notice how handsome he looks in his vintage shirts or how sweet he is or how nice he smells when we get close.)

The live music is upbeat, infectious. He leads me gently, his hands a little too tentative on the small of my back. I try to lead, out of stubbornness, impatience, an inability to read him and his gentle nudges. Still, we work it out. Swing. Laugh. Dance.

We are partners. Already.

Last Sunday, 2009. Los Angeles

Our last moments at the house are separate, rushed; he talks to the babysitter and plays with our daughter, I cook her dinner and place her pajamas next to the bath. We throw ourselves into our clothes and rush out the door. On the way to dinner, we chat idly, catching up on the day, laughing about our daughter's latest escapades, worrying about her latest challenges.

Once inside the club, our faces soften, our voices slow, and we shift into being alone, together. As we leisurely eat our meal, actually chewing our food and staying seated for minutes, HOURS, at a time, the band sets up. Soon there are couples on the dance floor. Twenty-somethings in exquisite vintage zoot suits and polka dot dresses throw each other around with furious abandon. Seventy-somethings in simple suits and sparkly, forgiving sheath dresses strut and turn with subtlety and grace.

We take to the dance floor, my belly preceeding me by at least a foot, and try to remember our favorite steps from back in the day. It's been years since we last tried to remember how to get into the open position or transition from a swing to a charleston. We glance at our feet a bit too much, I lead myself into turns, we collide with other couples during the fast numbers.

But we swing. Laugh. Dance. We're partners, now more than ever.

(Happy Valentine's Day, CG. I love you.)


desperate housewife said...

Oh, how sweet! Happy Valentine's Day to you both.

Astarte said...

Ohhhh, that's beautiful. I'm jealous. It sounds like you have such a connection.

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