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We Danced through Life

Story ID:7906
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell ID USA
Year:1998
Person:Georgia
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This story has been rewritten through coorespondence with one of the editors
at Chicken Soup for the Soul.

It will appear in Chicken Soup for Married Life this June.


We Danced Through Life

I held Georgia close. We swayed to the music and slowly turned. Next to us, a couple twirled and
spun in elegant circles. Their feet and bodies moved in harmony with the music, as they floated over the dance floor. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful
to dance like that?” Georgia asked me.

“It sure would.” I replied into her ear.

A few weeks later, my daughter, Vanessa, announced plans to attend her boyfriend’s prom.
Georgia decided to give them dance lessons as a Christmas gift.

She found a dance studio and called them. “Are you sure you and your husband don’t want to take
lessons with them?” the gentleman asked. “There’s a discount for a second couple.”

“Well…”my wife hesitated. “Why not?”

We stood with ten other couples in the center of the floor at Jimmy’s Dance Studio. I listened to
the conversations. “I’ve always wanted to do this.” One woman said.

“I hope I don’t step on someone’s feet.” A man of about fifty said to his graying wife.

A dapper gentleman of about sixty stepped into the room and faced us. He was five foot two
inches -- if that. “I’m Jimmy. You’re here to learn to dance and you will. I promise you, by
the time you finish your first six weeks, you’ll make your friends jealous.” He said. His toupee,
obviously fitted many years ago, was slightly off center and barely covered his spreading baldness.

We started with the basic box step, a simple waltz for those who know how to dance. We
practiced the steps facing each other but standing several feet apart. The men stepped
forward with their left foot; the women stepped back with their right. Our steps were mirror
images of each other. “One! Two! Three!” Jimmy shouted.

It seemed easy.

“Okay!” Jimmy said. “Watch how it’s done.” He took one of his assistants in his arms. An Anne
Murray song began to play. “Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?” she sang. Jimmy
and his partner drifted elegantly around the room.
“We’re going to start the music again. Take your
partner in your arms. Now let’s give it a try.” Jimmy smiled at us. “It’s easy. You’ll see.”

Anne Murray sang again. The song would haunt us for months. I held Georgia in my arms. My right
hand held her waist, the left held her hand. Across the room, I watched my daughter and her boyfriend do the same.

The music began. I moved my left foot forward and
stepped on Georgia’s toe. We stood, waited for the beat, and tried again. Halfway through the
box, we faltered.

“Hold her firm!” One of the assistants came to our side. She grabbed my arm. “Here! Put your arm
around her waist! Hold her hand with the other! Don’t move it. Keep it firm! You have to guide
her!”

Anne Murray wailed again. We got through the full box without stumbling or stepping on each other.
Compared to the instructors, we looked like two kids dancing for the first time. We were awkward,
but we learned.

Several weeks later, something happened. While Anne Murray begged for the last dance, Georgia
and I began to flow across the floor. Our awkwardness was gone. We were partners. We were
one.

“Yes! Yes!” Jimmy yelled and smiled. “Look at them, class. They got it.” He clapped his hands,
which caused his toupee to slide to the left. “I told you it was easy.” He smiled.

It took a lot of practice and time, but we did it. We became a team. We anticipated each other’s
moves and interpreted the slightest signal from the other. What seemed hard before, became
natural.

Once we learned how to dance, we looked at our relationship. We stumbled cooking together. We
stepped on each other’s toes when disciplining our children. I wanted to go right, she went
left: When to mow the lawn, how much to spend on a car, where our vacations should be spent, and
all things couples struggle with. Once we got the steps down, we danced through life.

Michael T. Smith