The Last Dance

1 Apr

The last time we touched, we danced. It hasn’t been so long since that day that I’ve forgotten the particulars: the sadness, the tension, the sinking feeling that it was all coming to a rapid conclusion. We shuffled awkwardly in the morning light of my living room as Duke Ellington played on the stereo. I don’t remember the song, I suppose it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we danced. That’s what I’ll choose to remember.

I was angry, very angry for a little while. That took me by surprise. I wanted to call, not to rail on you and expend my fury, but to say: Look! I am angry! I can get angry! Of course I didn’t, that would have been ridiculous. Over time, the anger passed. So did a handful of other feelings, until I am left now with acceptance. I guess there’s no shortcut, you just need to wait it out. You know what helped, actually? When I decided that I didn’t need to not be angry. When I realized that I owned that feeling, and whether it was justified or not I could live the rest of my life as the maddest, most bitter person around. Somehow, in recognizing it as an option, it was easier to let that anger go.

In hindsight, our whole time together was like an uncomfortable dance. We started out in step, but then we kept waiting for the other to lead and before long we walked all over each other’s toes. I don’t know if being a better dancing partner would have made any difference in the long run; I suspect that it wouldn’t. But I could have given it a better try. The real tragedy here is that we never really got to know each other: I presented myself as someone I thought you wanted and saw in you only what was compatible with that figment. I regret my myopia. Of course, had I known I was misrepresenting myself, I would have stopped. Unfortunately, only hindsight is the exact science.

The important thing I want to say is that I am no longer mad, or sad, or pining away for something that was a fleeting fancy in the first place. I am okay, I’m in a good place, and I don’t begrudge or blame you…for anything. You see, I could hold on to the hurt feelings and the humiliation, that is my right. I could be spiteful and hateful and hold a grudge for the rest of my life. But I don’t want to. What little I can glean about your accomplishments and successes, I am happy for. I permit myself to even be a little proud. I like to think that, in rare, passing incidences while going through old junk or experiencing some sense of déjà vu, you think of me. And during those fleeting moments, I’d like to believe that you remember me fondly. For my part, I choose to remember that the last time we touched, the last time we will ever touch, we danced. Everything else is water under a burned bridge.

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