Saturday, March 17, 2007

No dancing for Me, The End

That’s how we are when Mom and Dad and Deb and Jim clatter into the house an hour or so later. Debbie’s hair bubble bounces and her aqua feathers flutter as she tells us all about who danced with whom and who fought and went home early. She tells us over and over how great The Lavender Hill Mob was and how awful it is that we missed it.

It doesn't feel like we missed a thing. I consider telling them how nice it's been here with the Christmas lights and the fire but they'd think something bad had been going on, so I keep my mouth shut.

Mom walks into the living room and immediately back out again. The weight of her footsteps broadcasts her anger but it surely can’t be about me. A medicine bottle rattles and then the faucet runs. When the water stops, Mom calls Dad into the kitchen and they whisper. Mom's hisses slide under the kitchen walls and slither into the living room. David and I look at each other and shrug. We haven't done a single thing she should be mad about, but that sound can not be good.

The spell broken, David says good night and gathers his things. Dad practically pushes him out the door after they shake hands. We didn't do anything wrong. Why do they have to act like this?

As soon as the door closes behind David, I go to my room. My head is pounding again and I feel sick, but it doesn't have anything to do with the flu bug. I slide between my blue-and-yellow daisy sheets and curl up in a ball of anger and misery. What is wrong with them? Seconds after I turn my lights out, Dad comes in to sit on the edge of my bed.

“Jerri,” he says, “if you’re going to lay with your head in a boy’s lap, point your face into the room. Don't ever face him. It’s not fair.”

Curiosity wins over anger as I roll over and sit up to look at him. “What do you mean, ‘not fair’?”

“I mean. . . .Well. . . .Just don’t do it.”

I try to catch Daddy's eye, but he looks out the windows, into my closet, at the floor—anywhere but straight at me. His face glows in the moonlight, tight and flushed. I think he's blushing, but it's hard to tell for sure. Whatever's going on here clearly has something to do with sex. He won't explain, but I have to try. I want so badly to know what lies behind the curtain of secrecy and silence.

“Okay. But what's the big deal?”

There’s a long pause. “Ask your mom. . . no, wait. Don’t say anything to her.” Dad gets up to leave the room. “There’s nothing more to talk about. Just don’t do it,” he repeats as he closes the door behind him.

The tone in Dad’s voice, especially the sort of panicked way he said I shouldn’t ask Mom, makes the whole thing more mysterious. Sex is rarely alluded to in our home and never, ever mentioned right out loud. The not-so-subtle message is that it’s wrong and we simply should not do it. Ever.

I drift toward sleep, determined not to let them make me feel wrong or dirty. Whatever the problem is, it's theirs, not mine. David’s kindness transformed a disastrous evening into sweet romance, the way Rumplestiltskin spun straw into gold. That, I decide, is the magic of love.


The memory of that night never loses its magic. If I close my eyes now, some 35 years later, I see the Christmas lights and the fire reflected in all four panels of the bay window, and I smell the tree and the fire logs and English Leather. Most of all, I remember feeling loved despite ruining the dance, despite smelling foul, despite looking awful.

Despite it all, I remember feeling loved.

8 comments:

Deb said...

Oh, Jerri. I just read the last three postings at one time. What a treat. I'm having a hard time finding words. Your innocence and David's sweetness together turning what could have been disaster into a thing of magic and beauty. How brave you were to choose love and reject your parents' fear. I see that decision playing out in your life still. You love so well.

You also tell such a powerful story. I am so anxious to see where you take us next.

Love, hugs and many blessings.

Speedy Chick said...

Ohhh. I am tearing up. What a story. Thank you so much for sharing it. :o)

Kim said...

I'm so glad you didn't let fear or confusion ruin this unexpectedly wonderful evening. And I love that you can picture it all so clearly--and have shared that beauty with us.

Like Deb, I can't wait to see where you go next!

Mystic Wing said...

I was waiting to see how you would handle the end of this story. Extraordinarly well done.

You're off to the races, sis. Go for it.

If you look at the recent circumstances of your life, the nudging to write the book is pretty much undeniable, isn't it?

Amber said...

This whole story has been so fun to read, J. Just a glimps into a real American girl life, written beautifully.

Thanks for letting us read.

:)

Prema said...

So well put, well positioned (no pun intended!) - that time, on the precipice of sex but not there yet. And all the vibing from parents. And just as lovely, the reflection at the end. Very moving, too.

Skyelarke said...

What a treat. I just got to read all 7 parts one right after the other. That is a story that deserves publishing. You've touched on so many emotions and the way you have written it is ...I'm searching for the right word: captivating, professional, perfect.

Monica said...

Jerri,
That is indeed miraculous. To have that evening turn out as it did, for you to embrace it just as it was, without putting expectations on it, is just amazing to me - especially since you were so young. And you were able to let whatever worries your parents were having be theirs, not yours. Love it.