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The Two Feathers & The Black Pot Meltdown

October 28, 2014

Alex and Michael seemed to be fighting over who could dance with me the most. It was Festival Acadien a few weeks ago and I was having fun. Michael is fun to dance with. He’s weird and serious most of the time but he’s silly and spontaneous when he dances. He followed me to art walk downtown and we enjoyed a few hours in each other’s company. We agreed to meet at the Blue Moon later.

Alex was at the Blue Moon. We danced. He flirted. He expressed some jealousy that I had danced so much with Michael. Michael wasn’t there. Alex and I went across the street to Artmosphere. I texted Michael, since we were supposed to meet. Michael was already at Artmosphere, not at the Moon where he said he would be. I danced with both of them and when I left I told them both goodbye. Alex hugged me. Michael looked disappointed.

Black Pot was this weekend. (Yet another of Lafayette’s endless festivals.) Wednesday I saw Alex at the Moon again. I was bored and about to leave when he walked in. We danced and he was especially flirty. He asked if I was going to Black Pot. “Only on Saturday,” I said. He urged me to go Friday as well. “I don’t want to spend the money.” I said, “I’m volunteering Saturday so I can get in free. Besides, there will be plenty of girls there for you to dance with.”

“But I want to dance with someone special,” he said.

Somehow we got into an argument about him having my number. I didn’t remember us exchanging digits. He pulled out his phone and showed me my cell number. “Well why haven’t you ever called me?” I asked.

“I’m shy,” he answered. He’s pulled this “I’m shy” bullshit with me before. I don’t buy it and I’ve called him out on it. “You’re full of shit,” I’ve said. Alex is a tall, muscular black man with a Jamaican-like accent that comes from living all over the world. He’s kind and friendly and always smiling.

“I think you’re a player.” I accused.

“That’s the worst insult you could give me.” he claimed.

The truth is I couldn’t figure him out. Was he actually interested in me but really too shy to ask me out? Or was this just his way of flirting and he was saying exactly the same thing to lots of other women? I’ve seen that too many times before.

When I left that night, Alex hugged me close and I kissed him on the neck.

When I got home, I texted him. “It was nice dancing with you tonight. Does that help with the shyness?”

“No, the shyness is inherent.” he replied.

“Well, I tried, ” I texted.

“You give up so easily,” he replied.

Did he want me to chase him? I didn’t understand.

I thought of him as I fell asleep.

I couldn’t figure Michael out either. He has my number. We’ve gone to art exhibits together. But he’s never asked me out and he can be a bit snobbish and judgey at times. But I like dancing with him and we have fun together. He’s smart and open-minded and curious, qualities I find attractive.

To my surprise, Michael asked me to go the Boudin Cook-off with him Saturday. I met him downtown and we tasted various incarnations of boudin, discussing the various textures and spices. We voted for our favorite and talked for a while. I wondered to Liz if Michael thought this was a date. But he didn’t flirt with me and we went home after a couple of hours. I told him I’d see him at Black Pot later.

After and exhausting volunteer shift at Black Pot, I went to the dance floor, looking for potential partners. I danced with a guy from New Orleans who is a very strong, skilled leader, easy to dance with. Dancing with Michael, I decided to finally classify him as a friend. He wasn’t interested in me. And I don’t think I am in him. I might have gone there once, but now he was more like a fun little brother than a potential romantic interest.

I wondered where Alex was. I wondered if there could be anything between us. I texted him. “Black Pot?”

“Absolutely,” he replied.

I was dancing with someone else when I saw him walk by. He disappeared and I didn’t see him in the crowd. Then I spotted him moving around with his signature sway, a hat on his head, a smile on his face. When the music ended, I went up to him and put my arm around him. The next song started and we danced together. I leaned in close to his ear and asked, “Where’ve you been?”

“Looking for you,” he replied.

The first time I ever danced with Alex, when he appeared on the Blue Moon scene, I was intimidated. He’s hard for me to follow. His moves are a bit more zydeco, more fluid then I can keep up with. And he’s much bigger than I am. Tall and muscular, his body moves differently than mine. Michael is easier to follow because we’re the same size and height. When we fit, we fit.

But this time, at that moment, for that song, it was like I finally got it. I moved with Alex seamlessly. From the way he held my hand to the steps he took, we moved together in perfect synchronization. Or so it seemed to me. I even looked up at him a few times and smiled. I don’t usually do that. It’s a bit too provocative to do with just anyone. I usually like to scan the crowd and watch other people. But I smiled up at Alex as we twirled and changed and grabbed each other’s hands, pulling back with tension before reconnecting again. I felt chemistry between us. I imagined what it would be like to have sex with him. At the end, he dipped me low and I let him guide me down.

“I finally get to dip you,” he said with a laugh. I usually don’t let guys dip me. It can be a bit showy and even creepy. But at that moment, I was relaxed enough in his arms, to let go.

I stood up and smiled and stepped to the side on the edge of the dance floor, an invitation for him to join me and talk or dance or flirt or something.

And then………he smiled at me, turned curtly around and walked directly away from me to the other side of the pavilion.

And I fell apart.

There was something about that very moment, a moment that I thought was thick with chemistry and connection and possibility…….a moment that could have gone anywhere……..there was something about the way he just walked the other way……….and it all just hit me.

The past three years of being single. The missed connections. The questioning. The confusion. The advice. Be assertive but not too assertive. Be available. Don’t be unavailable. Be friendly. Be distant. Go to bars. Don’t go to bars. The texting and chatting and dancing and phone numbers and semi-dates and bad dates. It was exhausting and confusing and it all just hit me at once.

It was like a tiny snowflake came falling down on me with just the needed weight to cause a psychic avalanche.

I started to tear up. I walked through the crowded dance floor and out to my car. I sat inside and cried. I just didn’t understand. After a few minutes I pulled myself together and went to the bathroom to freshen up my makeup. I wanted to see James Hunter Six. I had come there to see them play again. I would stick it out so I could see them. I didn’t want to see Alex again.

I sat on a bench, brooding. I’m sure I looked like a little girl whose puppy just died. Michael found me, in my obviously diminished mood. He lured me onto the dance floor to cheer me up, egging me on and pulling me close as we moved to the rhythm. I smiled and he made me laugh. I returned to my bench when his attentions turned to young women in pretty dresses.

When the band finished, I walked out onto the grounds, looking for a place to sit to wait for James Hunter to start. Michael joined me. I told him how I was feeling. I told him about my theory that men don’t really want to have sex. We talked and laughed and he listened. He was turning out to be a decent friend. I watched as Alex walked into the parking lot and wondered if he was going home.

The music started and we walked back. I thanked Michael for listening to me and went to the stage to watch Mr. Hunter do those things he does with his voice and his guitar. I stood still as everyone bounced around me, just watching. After a couple of songs, I walked back and stood on a bench and watched from the back for one more song. I looked over and saw Alex sitting alone on a bench nearby. I don’t know if he saw me.

The song over, I walked to my car and left, allowing myself to cry on the drive home.

This was fun at first, three years ago. We had a gang, the Splat Pack, we called ourselves. We were recovering from divorces. There were four of us. Kitten, Pickle, Lapin and the King. Liz and I went out so much, a bartender once told her he was worried about us. I learned to dance. I learned what it can mean to know how to dance at a festival or a place like the Blue Moon. We flirted and started to figure out how to be single. We had flings and one-night stands. We drank too much and had long conversations over coffee on Sunday mornings, laughing and acting out the previous night’s escapades. It was fun.

When I was sitting on the bench at Black Pot, watching all those people, locals, young and old, people from New Orleans and all over the country…….moving and bouncing around having fun and enjoying life and music….I remembered how such scenes used to fill me such joy. It made me proud of my culture. I used to feel lucky to be a part of such a unique happening. Now, it just feels empty. Meaningless. I feel disconnected, like one of those tiny spiders with thin legs that walks on the surface of water, never delving beneath.

I’m having surface level interactions. I’m not connected. I can walk through a crowd and say hi to lots of people. I can hold a 5 to 10 minute conversation and laugh. I can dance with guys I’ve danced with before. I can say no to the ones I know are bad dancers. But there’s no relationships there. And I’m still going home alone. It’s not enough.

It’s not working anymore.

I don’t know how to change it.

And I probably won’t change it. I’ll keep having wine at Pamplona’s and go to the free cajun jams on Wednesdays and show up at the Moon when a good band is playing and hope to capture some moments of fun, dancing. I’ll sit on the back bench and watch everyone that I know, like a season ticket holder attending a bad play. I’ll say I hate Artmosphere as I pay my way in, asking the guy who works the entrance what interesting books he’s been reading. (He reads Josephus!) And I’ll continue to flirt with the young, Indian graduate student who says I’m pretty because no one else is telling me I’m pretty.

What’s that saying Liz says to me? “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

How painful can staying the same get? I found out once before.

Last time, I packed a suitcase and ran away, accepting the pain of change.

What will I do this time?

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2 Comments
  1. Yes, what will you do? Maybe CHANGE the places you go looking for that connection!

  2. Kitten permalink

    Ok. Make me a list of places and I’m there. lol. Thanks for playing along.

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