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March 30th, 2011

Dance Around

A Woman Girl I Saw Through Glass At A Chili’s® Wearing A Pink Dress | Spring

A Woman I Found At This Chili’s® Pretending For Me In A Black Dress, A Purple Dress & Without One | Fall

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I was new here. It had been a couple months, but I was still new. It was fall and I was a sophomore. My parents dropped me off outside the school, at the end of the long sidewalk that lead inside, then they drove away. I was early, I get everywhere early. I walked almost all the way up this sidewalk, till I could hear the music coming through the open double doors and see the lights coming through the windows from what was usually the cafeteria. Then I stopped. I thought to myself about how I didn’t know anyone inside, at all. I thought about the woman girl I wanted and how I knew she would likely be here and likely not be alone. I stopped short of going inside, at all. So I turned around and walked back down this same sidewalk almost to the where I had been dropped off, seconds before. I walked over to the edge of the shadow by the one street light that lit this area. I leaned against the fence, where I could still hear some of the music but not quite see the lights. I waited here for my parents to return to pick me up, it would only be a few hours.

No one really saw me. I quietly stood there, watching everyone go by. Everyone was with someone. One with a second, two with two more, many among many. Everyone was trying to be so beautiful and they actually were, each one I saw. I didn’t count.

I didn’t see them get out of the car, they had walked up into the streetlight that lit the beginning of this sidewalk. They were with two others of two. There she was in a dress of pink. They were holding hands and not, walking in front of and then around the others as the conversation and moments lead them forward. I wanted to look away, I didn’t want to remember this. This fact made me stare harder and it seemed to slow down. Just as she took his hand again and approached that area between the edge of dark of fading streetlight and light from the double doors of the usual cafeteria, she looked my way. She had seen me see her.

She let go of his hand and walked over to me, still leaning on that fence. She walked right to me, up so close I could see the black of her pupils in her already just so much not as dark brown eyes, even in this shadow. I had never stood so close to her. It felt good. Regardless. She looked me right in my blue green eyes, she said, “Why are you standing out here all alone, are you waiting for someone?” We had never spoken before.

I said, “Not exactly.” She looked at me, all kinds of puzzled washed over her face. She offered out her hand and told me to come inside. I politely declined and watched them go inside. I did not want to know what it felt like to touch her if she wasn’t there to dance with me, on purpose.

I kept standing there. Eventually, slowly, people one with a second, two with others of two and many among many started coming out of those double doors where the music I could hear was coming from. I watched them and did not count. Then, at some point, I saw my parents car pull up, right on time, on the edge of that streetlight. I walked over, got in the backseat, they drove me home.

She and I never spoke again but we looked at each other, often not too briefly, often across that same cafeteria. Then one day, she was gone. I didn’t know where she went and had no one to ask. A very, very long time went by and I was at one end of the very long hallway that divided our school in two. As I got towards the end of this corridor, I saw a woman out of place, pushing a stroller. I turned and went through the double doors of the stairway just as I saw her not briefly look at me as I now not briefly looked at her, again. Later, in the cafeteria, it was all my table was talking about. A man boy next to me asked who the father was, the woman girl across from me asked me as I stood up walking away, “Don’t you want to know?”

I told her, “No.”

I was new here, again. I had not been in school for some time and still didn’t know anyone outside of this place. It was the end of spring and I was a senior. We had been assigned to write a poem in iambic pentameter. So I went home and found all the words I could that rhymed from my Guns N Roses album. I wrote these single words down apart from those lyrics in a list, counted the syllables, arranged them in another list and constructed my own poem. This poem was about a cheerleader that sat in front of me one aisle of desks over, to my left. I did this in iambic pentameter, as I was told to. The next day, I handed it in and I forgot about it. Then the grades of these poems got announced by the teacher.

Cheerleader was upset with her grade. She asked the teacher if anyone did well, he said, “Yes, there was one A.” She demanded to know who, out loud. The teacher looked at me and nodded questionably. I looked him back and softly nodded. I knew I had an A, before I handed it in. He handed it to her, you see, she sat right in the front of her aisle of desks, just in front of me but one over, to the left, right in front of his desk.

She crinkled my paper flat with her hands and started reading it, out loud, before she read it to herself. I hadn’t named her. She stumbled over the words a few times as she was blushing finding her way through it. I sat there and I liked that. The other students in class were looking around, watching to see if they knew who or could figure who wrote it. I was staring at my desk. I liked that too.

When she was done, she handed it back to the teacher. The teacher stood up, walked over to me, one aisle over and behind her one seat to the left and placed that crinkled paper on my desk. She stared at me and I stared right back at her.

A very short time went by. The woman girl in front me, directly, who was cheerleader’s friend turned around during a break and asked me, “Jonathan, do you have a date to the prom?” I said, ashamed and bashfully, “No.” She looked over to her left, looking at cheerleader who was turned and looking at me, “[Cheerleader] doesn’t have a date to the prom either.” Then the two talked among each other while sort of including me. Cheerleader, after telling a story about her artist boyfriend I thought she had, said, to me, “Are you really not going to go or ask anyone?”

I have no idea what I said after that, but I did not ask her. In fact, it never occurred to me to do so. Years later, standing in a darkroom printing in silence, I thought about that first dance and about that moment talking to cheerleader about prom. When that tray of developer hit the wall, it cracked.

This Was The Day I Learned You Flew, Almost Daily