The bar was empty excpt for a few couples scattered about. Most were partaking in a meal at a table. I scanned the room. My eyes landed on an empty row of stools at the long curved bar.
Sitting meant I was committing to stay and I hadn't quite decided I wanted to yet. Maybe I'll leave, I considered even though I had a babysitter, I had put effort into getting my hair and makeup done just right, and I wanted to do something for myself, all things I hadn't done in a while. I had made and intention to just try one lesson, but standing in that bar, I still wasn't sure I was willing to get past this discomfort. I felt my heart start to race.
The flier said the lesson started at 8:30, it was 8:33 and the place seemed desolate.
I started to think I had made a terrible mistake. What am I doing here? What am I thinking? I feel so uncomfortable, I want to scream except I that would bring way more attention to myself. Maybe I can still walk walk out and no one will notice. . . I consider all the options. Maybe I can slip out and just sit in my car for an hour or so, then go home. But what would that do for me? I thought.
Just then the bartender asked, "What can I get you?"
"Blue Moon" I reply before realizing what I have just done. Sheepishly I take the nearest seat and wait for my beer and think "Well, I'm here now". I take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
I notice a woman, who also seems to be alone sitting two seats down. She has long dark waves that frame her attractive face. She looks to be a few years older than me. I strike up a conversation to occupy my mind.
"Have you been here before?" I ask her.
"Yeah, A few times" she replies kindly. "The food's alright, but the tequila is better." I laugh, I notice it feel good in my chest when I laugh. I feel freer already. "How about you?" she inquires.
"Oh, this is my first time. I haven't been out in a long time. I thought I'd give this a try." I reply honestly.
I loved to dance as a child. I took lessons for years. I remember my dance recitals as a little girl, the getting all dressed up, wearing makeup and performing on stage. I had even taken an African dance elective in college, which my uncle still teases me about. "You know African dance, how about you show me some moves." he jokes. "trust me African dance is quite useful!" I always assert.
The truth is, I love to dance. It makes me feel good to move my body to the rhythm of music. Dance has always been my happy place a place to feel freedom and joy in my body. Right now there is some wisdom inside of me that just knows that after losing my marriage and my relationship with Ed, that I need to feel joy and is drawn to dance.
"So you are here for the lesson?" the dark haired woman asks me.
"Yeah, but I've never tried line dancing before." I tell her. "Are more people going to be here?" I ask, not wanting us to be the only two on display in the restaurant.
"Oh yeah, the lesson never starts on time." She reassures me, "More people willl show up. Not everyone comes for the lesson."
I begin thinking, maybe this is how you make friends as an adult. Just sit awkwardly next to someone and spark up a conversation.
I hadn't had a good friend in a long time. Being a mom had isolated me. After Jacob was born my life became more about diapers and snacks than it did about calling friends. I wasn't into drinking, concerts or clubs like most of my single friends seems to be up to according to their Facebook feeds which is the only way I knew what anyone was up to. I had friends, well acquaintences, but no one called, and I didn't call anyone.
Being with my Husband had isolated me before I became a mom. I isolated from friends early on because I didn't feel good about myself or my relationship and I didn't want to lie about how well life was going. I choose instead to avoid meeting up with people. it was easy to not show up to the gathering and not ago to the event. My world became very small, and nearly every interaction in my life revolved around my mom, my son or my husband.
I sometimes lost connections with people because of my choice to be with my ex. I remember the day a childhood girlfriend took me to coffee after a double date with her husband and mine. We chatted and laughed for a bit, then her demeanor changed. Suddenly she got really quiet. I noticed her body stiffen. She looked across the table at me, down at her latte then slowly she look back into my eyes. She told me that she didn't like the way my husband talked to me. She said it was hard for her to witness. She told me she loved me and wanted to get together still, and although I was welcome anytime, but my husband was not. I have not seen her much since that day.
I looked at the woman sitting next to me and wondered, is this a friendship budding at the bar? Maybe she will be my new girlfriend. Maybe I'll have someone to go dancing with? Maybe even a friend to go to a movie with. The possibilities were wide open. I felt so optimistic and I really loved that. I felt a bit more energetic too.
Just then the dark haired woman pointed out the dance teacher. "That's Sara." she told me, "She is the line dance instructor. The lesson will be starting soon."
She checked her phone and told me her friends were on the way. Sara took the mic and encouraged everyone to the center of the dance floor. "Let's get started," she said with enthusiasm.
The young teacher was confident and straightforward as she began to count off the steps. One, two, kick three, four, step five, six and seven, stomp eight. I recalled the language of dance from my youth. Everything happens in eight counts. There is a pattern, a method. There are moves, and names for those moves. The dance choreography is these small moves put together in different ways to make a longer dance.
Dancing has become my favorite a metaphor for life. With dancing you show up and move to the rhythm of the music. Its not about getting anywhere, its about enjoying the moment. Sometimes you miss a step and that is ok because no one gets it right all the time. The key in line dancing is to keep going after you mess up. Just pick up as soon as you can and try not to run into anyone. Sometimes you go forward, sometimes back, sometimes side to side its all part of the dance. Sometimes you have a partner and they lead and you follow, kinda like my relationship with 18 Source, whom I want to guide me. Sometimes you just dance all by yourself. And the point is not to get to the end as quickly as possible, the point is to just to enjoy yourself wile you are on the dance floor.
I looked up and saw a small crowd had formed. I felt relieved to be one of a group attempting this new endeavor. At least I'm alone. Awkwardly, we all follow the steps as Sara counts. I notice how good it feels to be off the bench, at least now I am moving. I slowly begin picking up the moves, many of which I remember from all those dance classes as a child.
Sara shows us the whole dance and then we all cheer. "Let's do it to music." she motions to the DJ booth, "Taavit, Play it a bit slow. Here we go." And as we all begin to dance to the music, I notice something strange and unfamiliar. I finally feel at home in my body. I recognize it. It is the feeling of joy.