We were at the Black and White Ball last night in Missoula to benefit the Western Montana LGBT Community Center. It all started out fine. My clothes fit, I looked pretty good, Ken was handsome, a great circle of friends- dinner with people I love very much, and a ballroom full of people who supported me and my relationship as much as I supported theirs (or their desire to have some such). The atmosphere was nurturing, mostly. There were a few people obviously avoiding other people, but it wasn’t ugly or drama-filled or really at all awkward.
I was enjoying myself and my partner and my friends and the party immensely, and then something happened.
It crossed my mind later that the old cliche’ “there I was minding my own business, when suddenly…” seems to apply here. I really was. Minding my own business, I mean. I was talking to Hobie about something sort of innocuous but interesting, when Ken grabbed my hand and said to Hobie, “Could you excuse us for a minute?”
I was confused. Ken doesn’t really do that. Interrupt, I mean. And he hasn’t ever just grabbed me and pulled me aside for any reason that I can remember. I thought, “Oh shit, I’ve had a few drinks and maybe said something that I shouldn’t have and this is his way of telling me to keep my big mouth shut. That’s sweet- and a little embarrassing. I wonder what I said?” He was pulling me toward the front of the ballroom- toward the band, which was playing “A Rainy Night in Georgia” and the less crowded area of the dance floor. I figured I should ask him what was up. “Is there something wrong?” I said into his ear. He just grabbed my hand tighter and took me out onto the dance floor. “Nope,”he said. “I love this song and just wanted to dance with you.”
I was stunned.
Ken doesn’t dance. Or so he says. I’ve tried to get him to dance with me, but he’s always refused saying he feels he looks like a big, awkward bird and has no rhythm, is accident prone and etc. I always say it doesn’t matter, I don’t care what you look like or how you dance and still, he’s not been up for it. And so, we haven’t danced.
I didn’t push it, because there are certain things I don’t like to do- long distance running for instance, that Ken enjoys. I figured if I let some of my things go I wouldn’t be pressured to go jogging or spend six hours in a shoe store. It’s that compromise place you reach when you love someone so much you realize that part of what you love is their difference- there’s no need to be exactly alike or enjoy the same things. Otherwise, why bother having a partner at all? I want someone who shows me the view from their life, through eyes and experiences not my own. And this he does. Sometimes with a grace that takes my breath away. Sometimes it’s more akin to blunt force trauma. Mostly it’s somewhere in between. But tonight-
He pulled me close and kissed me lightly and we gracefully moved to the music. In a room filled with people that didn’t see us as freaks or perverts or abominations of nature, we simply danced. A very normal thing for people in love to do in a public place where there’s music….
It was wonderful. Stunning. Perhaps one of the best moments of my life. I felt safe and at ease and excited and, well, just right. I still do.
And as the music ended, and I felt all warm and happy, full of love and grateful for the surprise of this man, I found myself thinking, ever so briefly, “I’m going to return the favor someday.”
I don’t think it’ll be running, though.