He finally broke it to me.
We’d been taking dance lessons off and on for two years. Our instructors were very encouraging. We’d bought some DVDs, a how-to book and smooth-soled dance shoes. We’d installed mirrors on the upstairs walls so we could watch our progress.
And I thought our future as contenders on “Dancing with the Stars” was just around the corner – when they finally got around to selecting middle-aged wanna-bes to appear as contestants…
But, it turned out (and it was hard for him to say this), he’d been doing it for me. His heart wasn’t really in it. He wanted to pull the plug. He really couldn’t take it anymore.
I cried. Bawled actually. Even I was surprised at how hard it hit me. A pathetic puddle, heartbroken and hardly able to breathe, I was beyond crushed, inconsolable for days.
My leading man, my romantic hero, a guy with great rhythm, was bailing on dance class?
We were so good!
Our rhumba was borderline sensual. Our jive, cha cha and merengue had enthusiasm to spare. Our waltz was usually in time, and we’d almost mastered that complex routine of right and left turns. Sure, we struggled beyond our over-achiever comfort zone with the ballroom foxtrot, the tango and the quickstep, but it was all showing signs of coming together. We just needed to practise more.
It was an exercise in futility, he said. He knew it meant a lot to me, but he wasn’t being honest if he kept going and didn’t admit that he simply hated it.
I understood. Even while the world was spinning and my aspirations were speeding out of reach, I got it. After a full day of working hard, he was tired when dance class started after dinner. We weren’t focused enough to practise regularly and see steady improvement. Plus, more than once, I’d been impatient and bossy. Not fun.
Maybe we’d take music lessons, he said.
I worked hard to calm myself. I knew he didn’t want to hurt me.
Dancing wasn’t his dream. It wasn’t his idea of the best hobby to keep us learning and fit well into old age. It was me who couldn’t keep still if a beat was pounding within a block’s hearing. It was my lifelong fantasy to exchange “clumsy” for “dancer.”
So, I mourned.
And dancing haunted me.
Every now and then, something would remind me that I wasn’t quite “over” the idea.
I fought off tears when a friend told me about a self-help book called “This Time I Dance.” Turns out the title is a metaphor.
For months, I practised letting go. I reminded myself that my husband doesn’t expect me to live his dreams. I conjured gratitude; our relationship was safe enough for him to risk such a disappointing confession.
And I came up with creative ways to cope.
I put mirrors up in a guest bedroom and borrowed dance-yourself-fit DVDs from the library.
I started paying more attention to news stories about dance-with-your-dog classes.
I was almost used to the idea that I was going to have to go solo…
Last week, he put on a CD and casually asked “wanna rhumba?” I blinked. But not for long.
Oh, the bliss to be back in his arms.
Then he crazily suggested we could brush up our old routines, and I got all wound up again.
Dancing is great exercise for the heart!
Julie Ann Luoma is happy to share quirky conclusions drawn from life’s little dramas.