98: The Dance

98: The Dance

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

The Dance

A friend is someone who dances with you in the sunlight, And walks with you in the shadows.

~Author Unknown

It doesn’t always turn out well. There’s that little dance where I say, “Hi, glad to finally meet you, I’ve heard so much about you.” And she counters with, “It’s nice to meet you too.” Polite conversation, hesitant, careful steps. I try to multitask by keeping the lips moving while my brain processes the image. Gee, I didn’t think she’d be this tall and skinny. She does have a pretty smile though and that hair, wow, like a shimmering shawl wrapped around her shoulders. Her deep brown eyes sparkle. She’s lively, she’s fun, she’s full of life.

A couple of meetings later and things are still cool and breezy. I can see she’s here to stay. Sometimes I feel old and stodgy in her presence. My clothes don’t fit like they used to, despite buying a larger size. Her clothes float around her, accentuating her lovely curves. How does she stay so thin? Is she really that thin, or am I just that fat? Oh, it’s difficult being the older model! We do have a bit in common and we can build on that. We do the minuet by daintily presenting a foot and lightly pulling it back. She loves animals, so do I. She loves kids, so do I. She’s a klutz, so am I! These little things add up.

Another chance meeting. I like her style. Do I dare admit that to her? She can wear anything and look great! Even in her welding outfit she’s a charmer. She actually complimented my au gratin potatoes. Maybe this could actually work. She has a brother, no sisters, and her mother — well, they have their “issues.” I have two sisters and we three are so different. My mother — well, we had our “issues” too. How do we get to know someone? Listening, sharing, caring.

Let’s do a foxtrot today, a sly, sneaky step here and there. I love how she grasps the humor in any situation. Her wit, warmth, and winning smile fill the room. She tells me how she messed up at work. “Luckily for me they finally hired me full-time instead of temporary. And what do I do? My first day of permanent employment I drilled holes into 400 parts in the wrong place.” She gets my impossible moments too. “And there I was with three little kids and a car frozen shut at midnight. Funny now, not so much at the time.”

Now we’re into a tango. Our families are not perfect, downright crazy, and who would want any part of that? Sometimes the steps we are asked to take are too difficult. We’ve shared too much too fast. I don’t want to know about the drugs and alcohol. Can’t you just stay perfect? I can’t deal with how you lost custody of your children. She on the other hand doesn’t “get” the struggles I’ve had with my son. Our steps retreat, fade away. We take a break, and the dance floor clears.

It’s exciting to be part of this younger crowd, visiting the apple orchard. We run from the hay wagon to the crafts area, the smell of apple pie and cider permeating the air. The apples are hard, smooth, and shiny. We can’t wait to taste them! We buy some and head to the café where we can relax and sample the wares. As I crunch into my first Macintosh I feel the drizzle of juice dribble down my chin and know that this is a good day, a day of memories. Who better to share it with than my best friends? Yes, this is my favorite group of people. And yes, this would not be nearly as much fun if she were not a part of it. The guys think this whole apple orchard thing is idiotic. But they have forgotten the little boys who ran up and down the hills, apples in hand, yelling with excitement. My friend and I give each other a tiny, smirky glance behind the guys’ backs. We understand each other and we know we’ll remember this day fondly.

Has it been a year already? I like the way the visits have become comfortable, like doing a slow waltz, both parties understanding where the steps are leading. We are comfortable with the arrangement. I don’t see her as skinny now, but rather as slender and elegant. Her smile still radiates warmth. I never expected to share so much so freely. I never expected a daughter-in-law to be a friend. I never expected my life to be so enriched. We dance on.

~Linda Bartlett

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