I spent the entire afternoon getting ready, but I had been preparing for months. I have so many expectations, and my heart is nearly swelling out of my chest.
I stepped into the car, waiting for the driver to move, yet something was wrong. Finally, the driver apologizes, “I’m sorry, miss, there is something wrong with the car.”
“Oh,” I say, hearing all the disappointment in my heart speak. “I hope you can get it fixed.”
“Me too,” he says, stepping out of the car to look under the hood of the car.
I wait in the back, staring out the window. As I stare, I see a car go by that looks like mine. Hmm, I think to myself. They must be headed to the dance too.
I look down at my light pink silk dress and take in its beauty, still optimistic about what is to come. I smile, thinking of the fine food that will be there, the decorations, and the guests. I drift away in my imagination before a grunt from the front of my vehicle startled me back to reality. I realize I’m still not moving. It’s getting a little hot, I think. Suddenly, something passes beyond me. I look out the window to see two more cars pass.
Oh, everyone’s going to get there before me! I cry out to my own heart.
I stepped out to ask my driver what the dilemma was. “Well, I’ve blown the front gasket. Unfortunately, this car isn’t going anywhere.”
I try to hide my look of horror. “You mean I need to find another ride?” “Yes, ma’am. I need to call a tow truck and then make sure they get my car to the right shop.”
“Oh… okay… I understand.” I say, turning back to get into the car to get my purse, which I left in the back seat. I open the door, grab my purse, pull my phone out, and call a few friends, all of whom are also supposed to attend the dance. A voicemail for one. And an “I’m already here” from another and a text from a third, “I just arrived. Sorry!”
I plop down in the back seat with the door open, feeling utterly defeated. Will I ever make it? I scroll through the internet to find a taxi service. I call and hear the news that the fastest car that can get me is 45 minutes away. I try desperately to hold back tears as I make the reservation.
I get off the phone, and suddenly my tear-stained cheeks have not only messed up my foundation but also left temporary water droplets on my silky dress.
It’s okay, I tell myself. It’s only 45 minutes. In the grand scheme of things, there is still time.
After what feels like a lifetime, the cab picks me up, and I’m on my way to the dance! Everyone was there before me. I wished I could have to say I was fashionably late, but my hair looked stringy from being in the humidity, and my makeup showed the retouches I made due to my tears and now red nose.
I walk in and let out a sigh of relief. I made it. What happened earlier is now behind me! Just enjoy tonight.
As I make my way into the room, I notice all the couples dancing. They look like they’re gliding. Other couples are giggling and chatting off to the side. Everyone looks comfortable with each other. My head sinks. I feel so incredibly behind. I think to myself.
I try to make eye contact with everyone I pass and greet, but everyone looks a little preoccupied. I sit in a chair near the dance floor, waiting for someone to come ask me to dance, but no one does.
Isn’t this what I’m supposed to be doing?! Or should I ask someone to dance with me?
I sit there fidgeting in my chair while rubbing my thumbs together. The frustration begins to build. Maybe I should eat. Perhaps I’ll meet someone there.
I walk over to the buffet table, looking for someone to be there, getting seconds or maybe thirds at this point. There’s one guy at the table. So, I greet him. He looks up, nods and grabs his desired food item, and walks away.
Ugh! This night is all wrong! It’s all wrong. Why did I even come?! It’s too late. I got here too late.
Feeling out of place and disheartened, I go back with my plate of food to the seat I was sitting in only to find it preoccupied with a happy couple. I roll my eyes and find another chair on the other side of the dance floor. While grumpily munching on my food, I can’t help but be envious of a couple I see captivated with each other, moving together like water and swaying like a reed in a gentle wind.
I finish my food and head to the trash to discard the remaining bits and pieces on my plate. While there, a young man in a jumpsuit says hello. I say hello simply because of the manners my parents taught me, and then I quickly walk away. I put my plate where everyone else stacked their plates nearly an hour ago.
The night feels ruined. Until I hear a small whisper, “Go dance…”
What?! No way! Not by myself!
The voice speaks again, “You’ve been preparing for months for this dance. Don’t waste your chance.” I shot back, “But I’m supposed to have a partner!”
“Just give it a shot.” The voice said once again.
My knees shaky. My palms sweating. A clear sign I was about to do something everything within me did not want to do.
As I made my way to the dance floor and put on foot on it, the music stopped. Of course it would!!! I said to myself while letting out an internal scream.
The DJ came on and said, “we will be taking a little break and will resume again after dessert. Frustrated with having gotten my courage up and now being too full from dinner just a few minutes ago, I sat back in my chair. The frustration now hung on me like a 50lbs weight. There was no denying its presence on me.
The desserts were served and savored by all, and soon the music resumed. Yet, my frustration was still there. I got up out of my chair to attempt my dance alone, but the thought embarrassed me. I decided to get some air. As I walked away from the music, my old familiar tears came flowing down. Nothing is what I thought it would be. I thought I was going to meet someone, eat with someone, and dance with someone. And the only one around me is me.
With my shattered expectations came the breaking of my heart. I wanted to run away. I thought about calling the taxi back, but I actually didn’t have the money, and my pre-scheduled ride home wouldn’t be here for another hour and a half.
“Face the music and go dance. Don’t waste the time you spent practicing.” The voice said.
I sniffled, wiped my nose with the back of my hand, and headed inside. I freshened up in the ladies’ room, put on my brave face, and made my debut. At first, people stared blankly. I felt like I was in a dark room, and I had lit a match. All I could feel was everyone’s eyes on me. I closed my eyes and pretended I had a man leading me in the foxtrot.
Slow, quick, quick, slow, I repeated to myself. With each step, my heart fell into a rhythm, and my frustration began to melt away. I finally found myself lost in the music. Just then, I felt someone grab my hand and place their hand around my side, and slide until it stopped at my shoulder blade; I startled.
My eyes caught eyes with a handsome man in front of me. Immediately, he picks up where I am, and we dance. Slow, quick, quick, slow. But after a few trots, his steps become faster than mine, and my excitement turns into stress trying to keep up with him. His grip becomes firmer, and although we finish the first dance, I am spent. I thank him as he asks for another dance. I can’t. I need to catch my breath, I say.
He nods, kisses my hand, and lets me go. I walk over to the cooler, and a few people comment on the last dance. Isn’t he a great dancer — was the comment most repeated. I furred my brow, shrugged my shoulders, and continued to the water.
I turn around to see this same man dancing just as intensely with another girl. Suddenly, I realized this was also the same guy from the couple I had been so captivated with initially. Oh well, at least I dared to dance.
I decide to sit this next dance out. A few more songs played as I worked up more courage to dance again. Finally, I took a deep breath and stepped on the dance floor.
It was the Quick Step. The beauty of this dance was synchronization with your partner — which I was lacking, but I stepped out.
To keep out of the way of the couples, I hugged the border of the dance floor closely. Feeling very self-aware of my absent partner, I told myself to keep breathing. Then, as I did a spin, I misstepped and went right off the dance floor; I was about to lose my step when a strong arm caught me. He smiled and then said, “may I?”
We got on the dance floor with the other couples and no longer needed the comfort of the border. We finished the dance superbly. As with all the dances, the room applauded those on the floor. My partner looked at me, nodded his head, and walked off the floor. Clearly making a statement that he set out what he meant, and there was no more.
Embarrassed not to be escorted off the dance floor, I quickly hastened my step to find my seat — my safety net. I looked multiple times at my last partner to see if he would change his mind. But there was zero indication of that. So once again, I was alone. And my favorite dance would close out the night — the waltz.
As badly as my pride wanted to sit this one out, my heart wanted this dance so badly. Well, I’ve gotten up the courage twice already. What’s one more time? I say to myself as I take the floor once more. Feeling even more intensely the stares from the crowd, I closed my eyes and swayed with each step of the music. Within a matter of seconds, I am lost in my own head and the only one dancing in the room. Yes, this night had not gone as I had planned. I’ve been a step behind all night, and although I’ve had some partners, they never felt right.
The waltz soon came to an end. Everyone hugged and slowly said their goodbyes as they departed the room. Once again, there was an issue with my ride. The family who was supposed to pick me up had a family emergency and hadn’t gotten around to calling me, so I somehow convinced a cab driver to pick me up, and I’d pay him once I arrived at home. Reluctantly, he agreed.
One by one, the guests left until I was alone again. Instead of my dress and makeup catching everyone’s eye, it was my “party of one” that had been in the spotlight. Maybe not to everyone but definitely in my own heart. I sat down on the curb. I sighed out of relief for getting through such a rocky night.
Just then, I heard music that sounded familiar. But where was it coming from? I stood up to follow the sound. It was coming from inside the building. The same building I had desperately wanted to exit just half an hour earlier.
There was a disco ball, and Glenn Miller’s, In the Mood was playing. I couldn’t see anyone on the dance floor, but I heard a rustling in the corner. But I couldn’t make out who it was. I didn’t want to intrude, but I was also curious. So I hugged the corners of the room closely.
The rustling stopped. But because it was dark, I couldn’t make out if the person had left. Suddenly I heard someone behind me clearing their throat. I about jumped out of my skin.
“Care to dance?” The voice said. Still not able to make out the face, I grabbed his hands. They were thick and strong. He wasn’t what I was used to in a partner, but he was strong, and his form made him easy to follow. He wasn’t too fast or too slow. He also was attentive, but his dress was not what you would expect. He was the janitor who had greeted me earlier in the night. The only one that made me feel welcomed and the only one I internally disregarded.
I was confused. How was this guy, who I never expected to dance, able to lead me better than anyone I had ever danced with before? We were totally in sync. We were not impeding each other. Instead, we were making one another shine. He was not who I expected but exactly who I needed.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11