I woke with the following paragraph in my head. So I transcribed it and wrote the rest–a post about watching kids from my hometown fall in love happily-unhappily ever after. Now I’m smiling on this screened-in porch in Hudson, a beautifully rural region in which I’ll never have any roots. Because once again spirit gave me an answer when I asked. The question, desperately phrased last night, was: Why the fuck am I writing a book about my hometown?
What I remember most about those school dances was the shock of watching two people find each other. The music wasn’t cheesy to us. It was full of hope and longing and sweet discovery. Which is why, I think, 80s ballads boast such a strong appeal some three decades later.
Wheels go round and round
You’re on my mind.
Sleep alone tonight
Sending all my love
Along the wire
Watching a boy take a deep breath, shove his hands in his pockets, and stride across the great divide of the gymnasium to ask a girl to dance. She quiet, while her friends gossiped and chewed gum, flipped hair. The boy saying something super small– yawannadance, probably. She saying something even smaller, a barely perceptible nod.
And then the two step into that light–strobe, disco, maybe just a stage-crew spotlight. In my memory there was always something glowing on the dance floor, the miraculous inception of an ancestral line. For in that light I saw the first dances of humans who went on to marry and have children, buy houses, share private jokes and tired smiles for 30-odd years. Also beat each other to a bloody pulp of infidelities and defaulted mortgages and sometimes actual bloody pulps. All those births and holidays and deaths spinning out from that moment, spinning like a clown. Continue Reading →