Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dance, they said

*Dance, they said
Life is only for a moment
Life is brief - don't waste it
The taste is sweet - so taste it
And I said - I understand
I'm dancing as fast as I can

*from my favourite song, when I was 12. I have been thinking of it a lot recently.

One of my very best friend's mother died 2 weeks ago. We have texted a lot, but we have not been able to meet up. Tonight we met up, at the pub opposite the studio where we have taught a hundred women to dance this last eighteen months.

We had a drink. We talked. Both of us tried not to cry.

Then we did what felt right: we unlocked the empty studio and we danced our asses off. We played

Gimme Shelter.
You Can't Always Get What You Want.

while we warmed up. Then we choreographed a dance to Paint It, Black.

Lean, back spin from spiral, arch back, touch the floor,
Get up, reach up, fireman's spin, sunwheel,
Flip over, get up, plie, turn head,
Get up, walk round, big step, back spin, twist hips,
Egyptian spin, plie...

We danced until we were tired and hot, our breath rising as steam in the cold studio, then we stretched out and went to the pub and drank wine.
My friend's mother loved to dance. The slow wasting illness she suffered from terrified her. She died in her sleep, next to her beloved, on her 60th birthday, after having watched a West End show with her family that night. She watched the singing , and the dancing, then she let go. Her two beautiful daughters, her husband had spent the evening before telling her again how much she was loved.

My heart breaks for my brave, graceful friend.

Afterwards I got a taxi home, and I stopped off at the late night grocers. I am friendly with the Turkish man who is always behind the till.

I bought milk, cat biscuits, bread. There was a linen basket on the shop floor, inside were some beautiful hand-knitted slipper-socks.

'Are these for sale?' I asked.

The man explained that his mother had knitted then, 'ten, maybe fifteen years before. I can't charge them to you, very much, you are a good customer. But I think, maybe we should sell them, they are wasted in the house. So I get them out.'

'But, the work'. I said. And they were beautiful. Black and white patterns, from Anatolia, in Turkey.

His brother walked in. 'Ma's socks!' he said, looking pleased.

'How much?' I said.

'Um. Five pounds' said the brother.

'Nooooooooo...' said the shopkeeper, squirming.

'Look at them', I said, 'they are lovely. And I will always remember your mother when I wear them. And I am happy to pay a fiver, and if you think it is too much then you can put some money in the Earthquake box. I think I would like to buy your mother's socks: mothers are very important.'

'Ok' said the shopkeeper, and his brother smiled at me.

I am wearing the socks now, they are handspun wool, black and white zigzag patterns, tough and soft and very warm. My feet ache and are cold and cramped after dancing. The socks smell of lanolin and wool. They must have taken hours to make.

They are made with love, and my feet can feel it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful bit of writing - made me cry.

December 14, 2005 8:49 am  
Blogger Ally said...

That's lovely. And if it's not too wierd, perhaps you could get some socks for your friend?

December 14, 2005 11:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gimme Shelter is just one of those songs filled with high emotion. If I could dance, I would dance to that song. As it is, I can't dance, so I just listen to it on repeat play, usually when enmeshed in that aforementioned state of high emotion.

December 14, 2005 12:15 pm  
Blogger Clare said...

That was a lovely post Rachel.

December 14, 2005 7:24 pm  
Blogger Kim said...

I Love this post. Thank you.

December 15, 2005 2:36 pm  

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