I Won’t Dance (Don’t Ask Me)


I don’t really care to dance. Don’t ask me. I mean, if you did I might give it a go, just because you’re my friend – in good faith, just to prove I’m not a killjoy. But I’m not exactly having the time of my life like Baby was with Johnny. Far from it. Although at her age, I danced like no one was watching.

When we first relocated from the woods and waters of eastern Maine to Hawaii island’s north shore, we played for six months. Then worked for four straight years with hardly a pause. We did go to the beach. We hiked the canyons. We also purchased five thousand square feet of buildings to knock down and renovate. Let’s not get into what we must have been thinking. If you could appraise our place today, you would marvel at its beauty, and that’s what we envisioned at the outset. We were not deterred by the rot and the mold; the centipede nests or badly backfilled collapsing cesspool. We saw, as was our wont, the spirit of the place, its mana. It deserved our skill and attention, our empathy for the misguided who allowed its structures to degrade into sad shacks perched tremulously upon sacred ground. As the project came to a close, I slowly began meeting people.

Back in New England, my husband and I socialized mostly in winter. Summertime was for laying low – gardening or swimming lazily alongside loons on Goose Pond. Wintertime fostered cabin fever, and folks made more of an effort to trudge door to door through drifts of snow, cross country skiing across sparkling frozen lakes to share meals with neighbors. By evening’s end, any weavers among us would not pose a threat to the highway – we would simply ski home, and if somebody toppled over, no one was the wiser. Thus prone, one could gaze up at the pitch of night in wonder, as errant luminaries shot across the sky. Gape open-mouthed as northern lights undulated across the heavens. Bitter cold had its compensations.

To socialize in the endless summer of the islands, folks we’ve encountered seem to prefer larger gatherings than we are accustomed to. Coincidentally we’ve met some pretty amazing musician friends we like to support. To watch them perform we go where they are booked, and that’s not in the small concert venues and coffee houses of New England. Thus we find ourselves in the nondrinker’s conundrum: sitting in bars ordering overpriced food and sipping water.

For years my husband would refuse to move out onto the floor. Now that he is willing some twenty years later, I have lost my heart for the dance. To me this is far from negative, though I do have to fend of the occasional friendly bully who is certain that, if I would only get up and get it on, I would feel better because they do. It doesn’t happen, though I love watching good dancers get their groove on, from Fred and Ginger to Baby and Johnny. Human bodies are poetry in motion and great dancing is pure art, whether ballet, jazz or free-form.

We all need a relief valve in this pressure cooker called life, and what remains for me is and has always been nature. I find the beauty of this world adequate to dispel most wayward grey matter. When I feel morose I sit with the feeling, attempting to take its wily pulse. If that fails to calm me I jump astride my bicycle. Movement is divine as long as I can glimpse trees and ocean on the horizon. To bounce to the pulse of colored lights and the thrum of music has its own sort of hypnotic magic, but I no longer wish to reinvigorate those bygone days of my youth. I want to crouch on cliffs like some wild thing, staring out into the blur between sea and sky. What surprises me there is beyond human invention, and provides my soul with enough sustenance and renewal to carry me through the eye of any storm.


6 thoughts on “I Won’t Dance (Don’t Ask Me)

  1. I too am not a dancer. I loved the description of skiing home a little shickered and falling into the snow to watch the stars for a bit though. Having never skiied it sounds unbelievably romantic! lovely.. have a great day bela! c

    1. Yes, I miss Maine winters! Just too damn cold anymore for these old bones … but the magic of it all – lying on my back in the snow watching that crisp winter sky …. ahhhhhhh …. Good day to you as well, Mme. C!

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