We play a game at the pre-festival mixer milonga. In exchange for a hard-to-come-by $5, cash only, exact change, the adorable spacey greeter handed me a card, number 3, blue – whatever. Before each tanda, the host announces a rule. Dance with the same color… Blue dances with yellow… Odd with even… Odd with odd, even with even. This adds to the chaos: the room is crowded, the dancers are still unsettled, still arriving, cabeceos scatter about, rarely reaching their targets. I sit out some tandas, scoping out the scene. I dance some tandas, hit or miss, odd or even. That’s fine, I am still arriving.
I sit out. I see you across the room and recognize you. This is the first time I’ve seen you in my life. Sort of.
Next to me, Ma watches you too, apparently. “That guy is nuts,” she mumbles. Say what? Oh. Yes. Of course he is. “I could have told you he was crazy right away,” Sonya casually informed me about a year ago, referring to someone I had dated briefly before that.
In the way you move, I recognize, by resonance, this utterly familiar pattern of, OK, let’s say insanity. The fire is burning you from the inside. Mastery develops through gentle tuning for some people. Not you. For you, the mastery, the precision are all about restraint. Even in small movement, even in stillness, you are like a wound up spring, full of potential energy, barely contained, from your feet pressing into the floor, to the embrace.
As the ronda carries you past me, you meet my gaze and linger, your blue eyes look straight into my green. Your smirk mirrors mine. It’s bad news. You are my “type”. Hello there, samskaras.
You know what’s funny? A couple of years ago, I would have tried to lure you in, to express interest, to make you see me. Now I know that once our paths cross, I don’t have to do anything to get you. Not even dance. I’m just sitting here and you have recognized me just as clearly and viscerally as I have recognized you.
What could happen next? The barely containable fires that drive us both could meet. It would be interesting, mind blowing, inspiring, tormenting. Feeding fire with fire, we would hold each other with our fists clenched, kiss with our teeth grinding, burn deeper, more fascinating, holes in each other’s souls. You would love the idea of me, for a long time after we’ve parted, because part we would, inevitably, because you would not find peace in my presence, neither I in yours. We will have learned lessons, we will have learned nothing, back to the same games.
You know what else is funny? Earlier this week, I wrote down exactly what I needed to do if I ran into you. Know that this will pass, I wrote. Question why I am looking for home in all the wrong places. Ask what I really need. First step: see that our paths do not cross… much. Watch this pass. With curiosity, patience, kindness.
Hello there, a chance to try all that. Yes. I’ll take the challenge. Thank you.
But while we are here, let’s play, shall we? The tanda ends, the hosts announces the next rule for the match the cards game. I stand up and accept your cabeceo from across the room. Of course, you were looking at me. As we walk toward each other (yeah, screw the etiquette), I slip my card, number 3, blue – whatever, into the pants pocket. “Hey,” I say, as a greeting, “I’m pretty sure you have the correct card.” “Yes,” you respond, your card nowhere in sight “I do.”
I press my feet into the floor, from the floor into the embrace, and fly where your send me, your springs unwinding, winding up again in response to mine. The tanda is just as powerful, sensual, dynamic as I thought it would be. We dance another one. And a couple more during the festival. We say thank you. The paths uncross.