"No, come on, it's easy. I promise. All you gotta do is just bend at the knee, keeping time with the beat. Just bounce with me, and every once in a while pop your hip to the side. If you drink at the same time it won't look as bad, either. Just drink fast cos your beer goes flat if you don't."
Yes, those words came out of the mouth of...me.
Going out ten years ago was cake. It was a whole lot of cake. Chocolate even. We'd open the night at a restaurant bar, stay for about an hour, and then mosey on down the street (literally...it was across the road) to the local meat house for the "older" people, and dance and drink til "closing time" (remember that song?...I know who I want to take me home). Waking up the next day only produced slight soreness in the legs and a vague smell of tobacco and beer on your breath. Nine out of ten times, the stale smell seeping slowly through the air served as enticement and encouragement for a night of the same.
Good times...good times.
As luck, fate, and whatever the hell you want to call it, I found myself chaperoning a dance Friday night. Someone (me) came up with the bright idea to go to the neighboring bar (small, local, full of "mature" men). I mean, we were there, we were old enough (forty is old enough, right?), and the dance ended at eight so there was sure to be more than enough time for us to socialize and have a good time sans kids (snicker). So we went.
Well...remember a few posts back? My newly single boss? Female? Attractive? Single? Female?
Seems like all of those nice "mature" patrons of the local watering hole wanted to keep her and company with a nice supply of water. Round after round after round, and before you know it, we were leaving the safe watering hole, filled with lions wearing dentures and venturing out to the big town...teeming with cheetahs.
Or so we thought.
I have to say, I picked a good time to be married. The female:male ratio is like 1,000,000 to 2, and I have to say, the odds are not in the female favor. Cheese and rice, when did that population boom bust out at the seems?
All said, we had a good time. Drank lots of beer. Listened to a good band. Smoked. I must smoke when I drink. It goes hand in hand...literally.
I must say though, flashing forward ten years and waking up the next day, beer and stale smoke playing tag on the strip of my tongue, didn't have the same effect on me as it once did. There was no repeat performance that Saturday night. My legs creaked, my ass ached, I had gas.
My heart is big (almost the same size as my butt, actually). My heart is worn on my sleeve, it resides behind walls, it tears down walls, it's guarded, it's vulnerable, it's soft, it's hard, it breaks, it mends, it closes, it opens. I strongly believe that this is the case with just about every heart that beats.
Sometimes we are blinded.
Sometimes we are hurt.
Sometimes we are riding high.
Sometimes we just are.
Travis, as you all know, hurt my heart with his death. The part that holds his memory bleeds freely. And I thought it would never truly heal. Maybe I was wrong.
I have been using Travis.
He has been visiting my classroom, my students, my school, and me.
Last week our school's air conditioner was broken. Air conditioner? Yes, air conditioner. WE live in the south. It's still hot here. Really hot, and sometimes, unbearably hot. Due to the complete misery in the classroom, I took my classes outside for the teaching. And by the twisted fate of a broken air conditioner, I was able to share Travis's story with my class.
You see, we have a boy. I will call him boy. Not the best family, not the best situation, not the best choices available. He has two roads ahead of him. One filled with the same decisions his parents made. One that leads him to the same life he was brought up in. One that is easy for him to take because the way is already paved. Then there is the one that will be hardest. The one that forces him to break away from what he knows...to rise above all that he has known. Not an easy one. I was able to tell him the story of Travis. His struggle, his downfall, his rising from the ashes, and his ending. I told him of how even though claimed by death, he had become finally free.
As the words moved beyond my lips, I felt that I had lost all control over what I was actually saying. The story I was telling was ringing with power. I wish you could have heard it. There was true power there.