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For the first time in nearly 15 years together, Pat and I took dance lessons this weekend. Free Merengue and Salsa instruction was being offered during our weekend retreat in the mountains.
Pat wanted to be able to dance "...like Carmen," our amazingly agile, fluid friend, and now, our hips are killing us, but it was worth it.
Every winter and spring for the past 10 years, we've been meeting ~150 women and in some cases their young children, and who are mostly couples, for a weekend of, in our case, playing in the snow, golf, swimming, dancing and trading life-stories...It's not strictly a retreat, but it feels like one to me in its delivery of refreshment.
Till this weekend, our dancing has been strictly free-style, since the only lessons offered previously were for line dancing.
I told myself to stay relaxed no matter what and told Pat aloud that she was welcome to be the leader. We weren't naturals, but we did manage to be teachable throughout the merengue lessons, including a neat, tricky spin that made us dizzy after many times practicing it.
We had some loving, eye-locked moments, where we saw each other's open faces the way we did when we first began dancing together, back in Chicago, in the early-90s -- only it was richer even, since there was zero mental distraction from the romance by any of my worry that accompanied our courtship initially....
Will this last? Is she too good to be true? The answers, I've learned over the years, are yes and no respectively.
There were other enchanted couples on the floor, too, who were at least as teachable as we were, including our long-time friends, who discovered each other more than three years ago; they were friends of ours prior to becoming partners of each other.
And there was another couple I kept watching happily....
Meal, Enhanced...Full Pants?
Friday night, upon our arrival, a boy of no more than four or five pulled his mother over to our dinner table, where two of our friends and their two- and three-year-old boys were making abstract art with their meals. "When we're done here, do you want to see my bike?" he asked the boys. Of course they did.
Feeling competitive for a moment, I almost asked, "Does it have training wheels?" then was internally horrified at having been invested in the answer. If it did not have training wheels, then that meant that the boy was ahead of where I had been in my athleticism at his age; my sister Kathy taught me to ride a bike without training wheels when I was six.
Instead, I looked at the handsome boy, and then up at the attractive mother, and back down at the boy and up at the mother again: "He looks so much like you," I said.
"That's what people say," she smiled sweetly.
I recognized the woman she was with, though I had never before seen this woman or the son during these weekend getaways. There was an age difference between the couple; the one who looked like the boy was visibly younger than the other woman.
The next afternoon, the boy must have been with a baby-sitter, as they were with us, among the entranced, new merengue dancers. Every time that Pat and I go away for this special weekend, I get a visual gift; sometimes, I tell the subject of it directly how much I appreciated the gift, and sometimes I'm too shy and tell only my close friends what I've seen.
This morning, I did tell my friends who have the two young sons, but did not tell the couple, who was the subject in this case.
Now that I have a blog, I can tell you and pure strangers of this weekend's gift:
I kept seeing Pat and myself, 15 years ago, when I was much younger and she was the age I am now, and there was a disarming quality to our new love -- such an element of extra surprise due to our age difference; there's an Elvis Costello song, "Such Unlikely Lovers," which makes me cry with delighted recognition when I hear it, and this couple reminded me of us back then.
I hope it will last and that neither one is too good to be true.
If you are in a long-term relationship, what has made it last?