Sunday, September 29, 2002

The Hue from Shore - Part 8 in a series

Imagination Eclipsed

He was nervous as she took his hand and they entered the dance floor. There were about a dozen couples out there, but at the moment, he couldn't see any of them. He could tell that she was at ease, at least a lot more at ease than he was. He felt electricity as they began the slow, swaying dance of those who don't have any set steps. The fact that his right hand held her left, and that his other hand was on her waist, was all that his brain could process. She was not passive, he felt a positive, tender embrace from her as they glided across the floor.

Tim went from being 38 years old to fifteen. His senses were attuned to every small detail of the moment, and he could not believe what was happening. Onlookers may have regarded it as a simple dance, two people improvising some steps in time to the tune playing, but it was far more to Tim.

Years ago, when he formulated his image of how he and Mindy related, there was no space in his view for even this much romance. For a guy who never even let himself imagine dating Mindy, this dance, this real dance, was pleasing beyond any of his previous conception. His hand, his right hand, was presently clasped to her hand. Mindy's hand. He'd heard about the galvanic effect of human touch, but this seemed to go far beyond that, filling him with a warmth and an energy that bordered on scary.

As they danced, Tim nervously joked about the karaoke setup there at the reunion, and how that dancing was far better than participating in that. She told him that she sang often, and had been singing in public on regular occasion, including volunteering at the nursing homes. Tim considered what a stark contrast that made with the self-centeredness of most of the women he met in clubs.

As the song ended, her hand remained on his back for a few seconds after the last note. The warmth of the gesture increased exponentially with each millisecond her hand remained in place. It was approaching infinity when she gently removed it.

After the song, there was some more very good conversation. Some other people mingled along into the mix, they mingled apart. Tim drifted into another group with confidence that they'd talk more.

Right about then, Tim saw Bobby Rembling, a big guy with lots of energy and a hearty voice. He was always good for a laugh, and had been consistently positive during high school and ever since. Tim had managed to cross paths with Bobby regularly over the last two decades, but had seen him for a year before tonight. Tim was happy to see him, and they had a great conversation. Tim's great mood, which had been lifted high by Mindy, floated even higher after a few minutes with Rob. Tim knew that the best expression of a good feeling was when it wasn't limited to one context. They were laughing, joking, telling the best stories.

It was closing in on the end of the evening. Tim was getting ready to leave. He wanted to say goodbye to Mindy before then, not feeling the need for a big concluding moment after the joy of the dance they shared. He walked part way across the room to where she was now standing. Mindy was talking to Steve Broda and Peter Matson, two of the most prominent members of the "jock" crowd from the old days, and it looked like Steve and Peter were doing most of the talking. Tim approached and hovered nearby for a moment. She pivoted around and didn't hesitate to switch focus to Tim. He'd never imagined occupying such a preferred place in her life, even for this very fleeting few minutes.

As they moved a little away from Broda, Matson, and the others right there, she said "thanks for getting me out of there" which only added to Tim's surprise and awe of her. He thought back to how that years ago she seemed to fall for their shallow routine, and how she had grown, while those guys were still tossing out the same tired approach. He told her that he was leaving, and that it had been great talking to her. She said similar words, but it was the eye contact that meant more. He looked so deeply into her eyes that first he saw himself, then deeper still, until he couldn't see himself looking back anymore. He knew he'd have to break the gaze eventually.

She asked, "Are you coming to the 30th reunion?" Even though her statement was uttered with interest, it brought him back down to earth. He knew that she was going to marry Rob Walson, and that was that, even if it seemed like a marriage she didn't look forward to with fully-fledged positive hope.

"Yes, I'll be there." He replied, to which she playfully tested "No, you're not, you're not." After that, they exchanged a matched pair of slow-motion good-byes. She grasped his forearm, and that last squeeze echoed every bit of warmth he'd experienced from her in the past two hours. be continued


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