The Way You Move
It is a humid summer morning. My husband is working all day. My daughter is not yet two. But I have a plan to break up the long day before us. I pile the kid and her associated gear into the car and head downtown for Parade the Circle.
Crepe-paper streamers and papier-mâché masks peek from a white tent behind the art museum, but other than that, there isn't much action on University Circle. No kids on decorated bikes, no booths touting "Best BBQ Pulled Pork," no Good Humor ice cream carts.
A poster for Parade the Circle on a telephone pole informs me that the event is the following week. No wonder I nabbed such a great parking spot. I slump in disappointment and maneuver the stroller around only to see a man on stilts approach, his glorious dreadlocks bouncing 10 feet in the air. I blink at him in disbelief.
"Hi," I say.
"Hi," he says.
"Guess I missed it by a week," I say, feeling like an idiot.
"Yeah," he says. "In fact I'm on my way to practice. You can come back, no?"
"I'm afraid we'll be out of town," I say. My kid stares at him, fascinated. He smiles down at her. And then he inflates with magic.
He starts to undulate and sway, swoop and lunge. His arms are graceful wings, his dreads are swinging tendrils. He is a swan, a dolphin, a gazelle. My daughter gurgles and coos, pumps her tiny fists in the air. I am just as smitten.
He bows deeply in conclusion. I thank him again and again through a toothy grin. In character now, he silently nods goodbye and turns away, his body waving like a frond in the wind.
I am stymied in the vacuum of his energy. His confidence, his kind smile, his stunning control of the stilts, his masculine physique all combined into something extraordinary.
Without so much as one whisper about inserting tab A into slot B, he had it in nines.
Smoking might have been the dumbest thing I ever did. I looked awful whenever I stuck a butt in my mouth and smelled worse for the entire 10 years. But when you would lean over and flick your Bic at the tip of my Marlboro Light, the sideways smile I sent over in return had nothing to do with that filthy habit and everything to do with a different little flame that ignited between us.
The way you handled your money: sliding bills toward the bartender to cover a round at the Riverwood when no one was looking. Slipping an extra five under the sugar bowl despite the bad coffee and hamburgers that tasted as though they hadn't said "moo" in a long, long time. You didn't hold on to your money too tightly, yet you always had enough. It's about the same with a woman.
And the fact that you don't take that for granted makes it even better.
Although I laughed until tears squeezed from my eyes when I pulled it out of my Christmas stocking, I was thinking that when a man like you buys a toy like that for a woman like me, baby, that's saying something.
Don't say that. I disagree completely. In fact, I love your work clothes. I love the way the rough chinos hug your hips. I love the striped shirt and the way the embroidered name patch rests just over your heart like a promise.
Come over here. I'll unbutton it for you.
Let me look at you: the shape of your lips, your eyes when you smile. Dear sweet Jesus, just let me look at you.
When you take both my hands in your hands like that, pull them up above my head and hold them there, all the tears I've ever cried evaporate.
The perfect velvet blue of dusk will be gone in an instant. It's slipping away already. But I know a secret way to hold onto it: Lace your fingers in mine and put your mouth on my mouth until the edges between us blur. Don't think too hard, just make a wish.
Now close your eyes and I'll make it come true.
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