Asking Someone to Really Dance

We are about to leave the wedding.

I am dreaming of taking off my shoes and crumbling into bed. The car coming to pick us up is a few minutes away.

We walk past the busy dance floor and into the coatroom.

Wait, my mother says. When is the car coming?

Soon, I say. I sigh the irritated sigh that daughters give mothers.

My mother turns. She walks quickly, urgently to the dance floor.

We’ve only got a few minutes, I call after her, annoyance on every syllable.

My mother’s attention, though, is in a very different place. There is a woman on the dance floor. She is not a part of the big mosh. She is on the outskirts. And she is dancing, but very restrained. So that if someone saw her, she would hope they wouldn’t think she was dancing alone, maybe just edging along the dance floor to the bar.

But my mother - who knows a thing or two about being on the outskirts - sees her, makes a beeline to her, and begins to shake, shimmy, twist, tear it up with her.

And the woman’s face, body, whole soul breaks open. She dances. Really dances. Like she’s been waiting a lifetime for permission and now she’s got it.

I wish you could have seen it. Two women moving together with a joy so elevating you’d think it could render gravity powerless.

Our car arrives. I consider cancelling it, giving my mother and that woman the time the world - which has simultaneously told them they are too much and not enough - hasn’t allowed them. But the rest of our party is already getting in and buckling up.

Mum! I call. She nods. She grins at the woman. And the woman crushes her in a hug. Gratitude is written across her face. But something else, too. Something that’s harder to recognize. And then I realize - it’s freedom. She has been set free, if only for a few moments.

Which is what can happen when we ask someone to really dance.

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