We Used To Dance
I know. And yes, it was every bit as cheesy as it sounds. Too much big hair and haggard hopefulness. Too much smoke. Too many belt buckles and beer bellies on too many erstwhile cowboys.
But I didn't care. I just wanted a place to drown my sorrows after a humiliating breakup. I needed to slip beneath the throbbing baseline and the brittle murmur of desperately genteel mating to quiet the voice in my head.
In the din, I could scarcely hear my own guilty admonishment.
It's your fault. It's your fault. It's your fault.
It wasn't my fault. I know that know. But then? I couldn't wrap my mind around any other explanation. I wasn't pretty enough, sexy enough, adventurous enough. Whatever enough I needed to be, I wasn't.
The really sinister thing about infidelity is not betrayal. It's the erosion of self-esteem. The annihilation of self-confidence. The shattered belief that one is worthy of love and devotion.
It's a wound that cuts deeply and heals slowly.
After weeks of wallowing, my friends appeared at my rumpled and distinctly aromatic bedside and demanded that I get up.
"Don't let that bastard win!" said one.
"You're way too idealistic to die of a broken heart"
"Fuck him" said the third.
They dragged me bodily from the nest I had made for myself, forced me to shower and then carted me off to a little hole in the wall honky tonk. At first, I simply sat... smoking moodily and glaring malevolently at any man who dared make eye contact.
I created a new persona for myself. Man hating bitch. Yes. That suited me just fine.
But after a while, I began to loosen up. After overhearing many a drunken confession and a sobbed story, I realized that a lot of these people had problems worse than mine.
And yet...they danced.
Country dancing isn't like rock and roll dancing, which is really just a random assortment of flailing limbs and pantomimed sexuality.
Country dancing is fun. There are actual steps. Moves. Dips, twirls. You have to count to yourself.
slow, slow, QUICK quick slooow, slow, slow QUICK quick slooow
I saw the appeal. A person can lose themselves in the mindless exhiliration of dipping and twirling and stepping. They can let go of their troubles and imagine that the person in their arms is their knight in shining armour, the one who will take them away from it all, the one who will complete them. Even if really, they know it isn't so.
So I danced. We all did.
When I met husband, I wasn't very nice to him, but eventually he won me over. He could dance, you see, so I accepted his invitation to imagine.
Ahhhhh, the dancing.
We were good. We had a natural rythym together. His body seemed to know mine, and mine seemed to fit his. So we Two-Stepped and we Swung and we Cotton Eye Joe'd and we hustled our Achy Breaky butts until the wee hours every weekend.
And when we left the dance floor with aching thighs, we were tired, but not too tired. We were never too tired back then.
No matter the hour, we always had the energy for one more dance; one of age old intimacy that had moves but no steps, music but no notes, lyrics but no words. And when were through, our exhaustion was good and pure and satisfying.
But we don't dance anymore.
We have jobs, children, a home, responsibilities.
We are often too tired.
One evening not long ago, we sat, each in our own chair, lethargic and empty. We stared at the big screen watching beautiful people dance. Their graceful bodies spoke to one another; the movement telegraphed as they touched. They gazed at one another hungrily, they caressed one another tenderly. They trusted. They believed.
Something stirred in both of us then. Husband looked at me with a wistful expression.
"We used to dance." he said.
"We sure did." I replied.
That night we discovered that the music had not stopped playing. It was simply muffled by the heavy mantle of our shared responsibility. We learned that sometimes, you have to fold it up and put it away for a little while.
Sometimes, you have to dance.