I like to dance. No. I love to dance. My hopes of being a prima ballerina were dashed when I was six, because my Dad didn’t like where the ballet classes were (in a building basement), so I never did get to dance with American Ballet Theatre, but even so I love to dance.
My parents were fairly decent dancers. They couldn’t get along with each other for two minutes, but they could dance together. My Dad taught me to foxtrot when I was still in elementary school. My grandmother taught me how to Charleston. And I did eventually get back to ballet in college. I’ve tried some modern, too, and I’ve even, *ahem* dipped my toes into tap briefly. I still have my tap shoes – hmm….
Anyway, I’ve always loved dancing, but I have especially loved dancing with a partner. Now Don, my late husband, was not a natural dancer. He was self-conscious. He’d had a lumbar spinal fusion, and he was simply unable to swing his hips. I mean, they just wouldn’t swivel. This was a disadvantage in latin dancing. But I loved to dance, and Don was game. So we took ballroom dancing classes. We started when we were dating.
Our first dance at our wedding was a Viennese waltz. It was so much fun. Don was more worried about the first dance than he was about the whole being married thing. I guess that was a pretty good sign. Now, we pulled that dance off, and it was a lot of fun, but Don wasn’t exactly Fred Astaire.
Don led, but I was the more experienced dancer. If I’d had another regular partner, I probably would have been able to do some fancier things on the dance floor, but ya dance with the one who brung ya, and Don brung me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to have a dance with someone else on the floor, but Don was my regular partner.
Once, we went to a civil war reenactors’ Valentine’s Day ball. We got dance cards – and according to the etiquette of the time, it was improper to dance with your escort for more than one or two dances. But even then, the last dance was with my honey. As an aside, I do have to say, though, that dance cards are terribly convenient and I think we should consider bringing them back. OK, back to the topic at hand. Where was I? Yes — dancing.
Well, it’s July. Every July I love to watch the Tour de France – the epic bike race around France that lasts for three weeks. (“Non-sequetor,” you say? Mais non, s’il vous plais. Just give me a minute). So, le tour. I got interested when Greg LeMond was racing in the ’80s.
When I first became interested, I didn’t really understand how the race worked. The more I watched, however, the more I learned. Now I understand why it’s such a team sport, even though there’s an individual winner. Back when Lance Armstrong was riding (and I’m not even going to go there, ugh), George Hincapie, possibly my favorite rider, was Armstrong’s go-to man. There’s a whole team that looks after the team leader, but often there’s one guy, one partner, who can really be counted on to do the job. Sometimes, the partner can even be stronger than the leader – like in dancing. George Hincapie, who spent all that time drafting for Armstrong and chasing down riders who made generally fruitless attacks, once won a stage of the Tour in the mountains. It was a great day.
In this year’s Tour, Chris Froome is in the lead. He wouldn’t be able to be so strong without Richie Porte, who’s been there for him all the way. Yesterday, Porte looked much stronger than Froome, but Froome is the leader. So when Porte was strong enough to take off and possibly overtake other riders on a steep peak in the alps, but Froome was in trouble, Porte stayed behind and took care of his partner. That’s what partners do.
Now, in professional cycling, people do change teams from time-to-time. It happens. Then riders find they have new partners. New partners. It’s a whole new thing. You have to learn each other.
Don and I were dancing together for the last 21 years. Oh, sure, I’ve had dances with other partners from time-to-time, but Don was the one who brung me. Always. And why am I bringing this up today? Well, there’s a wedding.
Tomorrow, two dear friends are getting married. I am SO very happy for them. I would be giddy for them if I could muster giddy right now, but that’s just a bit beyond my reach. Don had planned on being at this wedding. Did I mention the kilts? Probably not. Many of the men will be wearing kilts, and Don was going to rent the whole shebang – in a Campbell tartan, of course, and then it didn’t work out that way.
This evening was the rehearsal, and at the rehearsal dinner, given the highland theme, there was some practicing of Gaelic dances. The line dance was fine, but the next dance was a couples’ dance, and that’s when I realized that I was missing my dance partner.
I think I will dance again. I think Don would be very sad to think that I wouldn’t. But I just don’t know if I can dance with another partner just now. I think it might just hurt too much.
We really loved to dance. When we went through family photos to make a slide show for the reception after the memorial service, we kept finding pictures of the two of us dancing, and we were always smiling.
I might have been the stronger dancer on the dance floor, but Don was definitely the partner who would be dragging my butt up the mountain in the Tour in much of the rest of life.
That’s the thing, isn’t it? I mean, life isn’t a sprint, it’s an epic grand tour. We dance through it, sometimes elegantly, sometimes barely hanging on. It’s great to have a team, but one strong partner can make such a difference. Glad I had mine for the time I did.