Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Hope You Dance

“C’mon momma, let’s dance” my wee son extending his little brown hand in my direction. Six or seven years old, dressed in a vest and tie, head shaved silky smooth, looking a bit like Montel Williams at a friend’s wedding. Took that tiny hand in mine, as I had done a million times before, smiled as I felt his slender fingers slip between mine…little pads of his fingertips resting just above my knuckles. My baby and I walking, well dance walking, onto the slightly raised popup dance floor of a hotel banquet room wedding reception. All eyes on us as people tried to figure out the relationship between the handsome little black kid and the scared to open her mouth but fearless on the dance floor blonde chick he was rocking the night away with.

This would be a pattern for Jeremy and I, the two of us on the dance floor, showing up on every damned wedding video, lost in the thump-thump-thump of the base, stomping our feet, fingers laced, our love for each other, music and dancing too big to stuff away. Those freeing moments just too precious to let slip away. Any, or all, the times we were made to feel uncomfortable because we didn’t look the same. All the people that would stare at us. The family that worried. The kids with their questions and name calling. All of it whisked away as KC and the Sunshine Band, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton and Marvin Gaye spilled their acceptance and understanding all over us. Words set to music that made our hearts feel too big to contain in our chests, we needed to move and we needed to do it together.

“Oh turn that up!” my mother, thin and beautiful, hair in loose waves, mid-drift exposed and in a good mood. I scampered to the stereo and took that big volume knob in hand. Cranked the decibels to blaring and sat on the couch, knees tucked into my chest, trying to bite my lip but finding it difficult for the missing front teeth…just watching as my mother, my one and only love at the time, swayed and snapped, swung her curvy hips to the music. The feeling so massive, the power so intoxicating that my stomach was in knots and I couldn’t catch my breath. “When you’re standing in the crowd, your love talks to me so loud” the words bouncing off her shoulders, resting upon her waist then spinning out all around me as she swung about. I sat there shaking as I watched this often sad and quiet woman become fierce and bubbling with passion and the speaker behind me flicked and pounded into my back. I could hardly keep still but found myself holding my breath as I didn’t want it to end.

“Come here baby” her just moments before, flailing arms reaching for me, asking me to join her in this moment of freedom. “Do I do, what you do….what you do, when I do, my love to you” my hands locked in hers, my fingertips resting just above her knuckles. Dancing, learning to dance, with my mother. One of the most powerful and brilliant memories I own. How tall she looked as my neck craned to look into those beautiful blue eyes for approval, the patter of my own feet as she bent down and instructed me, Stevie Wonder’s voice like a puppeteer, moving my arms and legs, the words oozing struggle and the music framing it bending my body, opening my heart…pushing all the “uncomfortable” to a section of the room that was not where my mother and I were dancing. Nothing could touch us.

My mother taught me to love music and moving my body to it. She wasn’t the greatest dancer, I’m suspecting because she was never completely willing to let herself go. Never willing or able to just let it all go, make a fool of herself learning, look silly when she failed or stumbled. It did however give her a fire, a desire to make me a little stronger and less bound by the constraints of what a woman should be. Maybe too much, maybe Stevie and her bare mid-drift were a little too much, or too liberating. I ran. I ran with it like my fierceness was gonna protect me from, my need to be seen, touched, wanted and protected. As if knowing how to move, sway to music in a way that would ignite want would give me the power to make my life so very different from hers. It gave me the confidence to step on any dance floor, know that my swerving spine, arching and bending would garner the attention of the boys that would line the dance floor and watch me….try and take me home and I found some kind of bite or strength in the fact that I got to say yes or no but…that thing that they saw and wanted to spend the night touching, it was still me, six years old and dancing with my one and only love in my socks and wholly spellbound by her swaying and the thumping that took my breath away…

“So I’m thinking I might go to grad school in Maryland” my not so small fingered son. Home for a 10 day visit and somewhat sheepishly telling me that he isn’t coming home, to stay, anytime soon. My heart instantly sank and I thought of all those nights on the dance floor. Our hearts and story playing out before all the eyes that cared to watch. Fingers linked as we freed ourselves from the eyes that watched us and tried to figure us out. Our hearts and bodies bending to the music, souls shaking off the inquisition. Just us, no one could touch us as long as the music was playing. Time to pay the fiddler….

My swaying curves aren’t going to change that fact that I am now a 40 year old woman with a 22 year old son that is stepping on the dance floor. Full of his own bite and ready, been given the tools to dance in another life…one he has been building on his own. His hand in mine now sees those fingertips resting upon the little bumpy bone of my wrist. Just as his hands now envelop mine, his heart and drive to be his own man are bigger than anything my silly head could have ever dreamed. My heart is torn between the ache of feeling my partner’s hand slipping away and the overwhelming pride that is watching your child learn to dance….alone.

Jeremy, I just want you to know that you need only reach your arms out, I will be there. Momma will be there, ready to step on any dance floor that has the two of us not caring what people think, expect or assume. My mother taught me to dance, you my sweet son, you taught me how to love and feel loved. You are and will forever be my miracle. You saved my life and for that, my dance card, it’s yours.

We have 10 days kiddo. 10 days to laugh, eat, drink and snuggle into a love that is so tremendous that is would freak most people out. I am in awe of your strength and courage. You are my hero and I will pack into these 10 days all that I can. I’ll take those kisses you love to plant on my forehead, the hugs that make me feel like I’m tiny and melting into your strong frame. I will take you to The Wine Country's Francois Chidaine wine brunch, share with you what it is that keeps me going when I can’t feel your touch, hear the music and dance with you….

Don’t worry about me baby, I’ve got my memories and my pride to keep me company while you are away and when I am missing you so much that I fear my heart my explode I will remember us sipping wine, you watching me “dance” to the flavors and sway with the textures of the music that now pounds against my flesh.We will both understand that while your entrance in my life made me the woman I am now, there are still a few spins around the floor in my future and because of you, I can step out there with my head held high. No longer looking for acceptance and never looking to forget, not even for a second, the life I am living in.  The life that loving you made possible.

Should there ever come a time when you are feeling low, afraid, alone or like it is all too much, just always know that our door is as open as my heart and as long as my body is willing, I will take that hand of yours and smile as I walk onto the dance floor with you. If distance and time won't allow than just close your eyes, think of us in the car and remember...

"We're gonna fly away, glad you're going my way, I love it when we're cruising together"

We've still got lots of dances left you and I. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, the birth of your children. Your private dancer will be there for all of it and finding, this time, more freedom and fierceness in the pride that comes from standing in awe of the man you've become. 

C'mon baby, let's dance.


Thomas said...


U of M at College Park?

That's where I went--for a while, anyway.

Samantha Dugan said...

He's thinking about it and the best part, he wants to study creative writing. Makes a momma so proud.

webb said...

Your son only gets better and better. Know it's hard to be even farther apart, but you gave him his wings as well as his dancing feet. If it's Maryland, I'm only three hours away and can go stalk him for you now and then!

[Haven't stalked a good looking young man in a while, but it would be fun!!]

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Aside from Stephen Hawking, I'm the worst dancer on the planet. I not only have two left feet, I'm also ambisinistrous (now that's a cool word). I dance like a white guy with rabies.

I don't think I ever danced with my Mother, though I probably did. But she forever sang to me, and that was a gift. I can't hear "You Are My Sunshine" without feeling loved. Thank God my Mother didn't know George Clinton or I'd be calmed by "Get it UP for the Downstroke."

Hey, Jeremy, mind if I cut in?

I love you, Samantha!

Samantha Dugan said...

Just got home from a dinner for two with a young young man and I can tell you, it is fun! Thank you for your kind words here. Always feel funny when I let myself indulge in these all about me posts but, I just needed to say it and as close as Jeremy and I are, sometimes it's just easier here.

Ron My Love,
You always have the coolest words, part of what made me notice you and the ones you share with me....the ones just for me, well those stole and continue to steal my heart.

Okay so I shan't ask you to dance, like ever but, if I could sing I would hold your sweet face in my hands and purr, "Can I just have one more Moondance with you, my love"

Do Bianchi said...

You KNOW I am an all-day sucker for this post (get the reference?). I can't help but be thinking about la piccola Parzen and someday getting to dance with her. Talking Book is such an important part of the fabric of our lives... when I read your blog, Sam, I just can't help but think to myself: there are folks in the world who get it and folks who don't... you're one of my folks, for sure... love the post and love that you are going to be a model for my own parenting... I couldn't have a better maestra/madre... :) abbraccione

Samantha Dugan said...

The very first thing I pictured when I heard that you and Tracie were having a little girl was you, holding the hands of a little girl whose feet were resting atop yours. You and your daughter dancing. Almost brought a tear to my eye, just as your kind praise and generosity regarding my motherhood have here. I am so very happy for you and Tracie and I cannot wait for you two to start what is going to be the greatest love of your lives!

Marcia Macomber said...

Man, did I need a smile today, and that was just the trick.

Never danced with my mom. Although a musician, her skills with her feet Ron said...more like Stephen Hawking. Did dance with my dad. Worth it.

For heaven's sake, make the most of your 10 days, girl!

Sara Louise said...

This is so touching. It sounds like you have raised an amazing son. You did so good!! And I love that you two adore each other, and have fun together! x

Bish Bosh Bash said...

That was a truly poignant, gutsy and beautifully written piece of narrative. Reached right out of the page, with all your heart as well as your soul. A proud Father of a couple of twenty something’s myself, and ‘a born and raised on’ with the KC & Stevie Wonder years, I had the luxury of rekindling many similar feelings and memories, as I read my way through this post.

Your love for your son and your Mum, really shines through. Something to be hugely proud of. Special and very touching. Salut.

Samantha Dugan said...

He makes me smile too. Been spending as much time as I can and so looking forward to taking him to his first, official wine event today. My two loves in one wonderful setting.

So it shows then? Thought I was being all cool and shit. He puddles me and I am having a blast spending time near him.

Bis Bosh Bash,
Welcome. Thanks so much for reading, taking the time to comment and for the very sweet compliments. So glad I was able to touch on a subject/feeling that spoke to you. Also glad to be submerged in the emotion that inspired it. Got three more days until before he returns to Louisville, to the life he has been amassing for the past four years, and I am going to enjoy every second of it!