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|Family Matters - Page 4|
Don't get me wrong: I didn't want to kiss Phil, and I certainly didn't want him to kiss me; nor could I imagine him wanting to, not with his stunning wife waiting for him when this charity dance was over. This wasn't about the two of us; it was much more impersonal. Phil simply opened the door to an unexplored room in the house I'd lived in for years, letting me in on a surprising secret: what drew you to someone was less about how you looked than how he could make you feel, make you move. That my hair wasn't straight and I was stepping on his feet, that he wasn't particularly tall or young, none of this mattered. It was something that caught you up for reasons you couldn't explain to anyone else, but it filled you up and made you feel alive. And sweet Lord, it could happen to me!
I hadn't thought about that dance in more than forty years, and I wouldn't have recalled it if I hadn't emailed Anita on a whim, about a year ago, after a long silence. We quickly caught each other up: I told her about my husband and kids, she told me about her kids and about Phil, who'd been struggling for the past decade with diabetes. True to form, they were staying active and engaged, even after he'd needed to have a leg amputated. Just a few weeks ago, she wrote to tell me that he'd passed away.
Ambushed by unexpected sadness, I sat down to write Anita a condolence card, only to realize it was Phil I wished I could write to, my prelover, who so gently prepared me for the pleasures ahead, with whom I'd first glimpsed the astonishing variety and roguish nature of sexual attraction. Too late: that he'd set my adult life in motion had become clear to me only after learning of his stillness. And even if he were alive, what were the odds that he'd remember the dance that had proved so pivotal to me?
He was a dancer: he danced to thousands of songs, whenever he heard a melody and could scrounge up a partner; and when that was denied him, he found other ways to keep moving. But the music lasts only so long. Every song has its last chord—which is why he'll always be pulling me close, respectful, but ever insistent, to whisper, "Relax, close your eyes if only for a few moments, and just follow me."
Roberta Israeloff is a freelance writer who lives and teaches writing in East Northport, New York. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at email@example.com, or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you'll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.