Excerpt from To Walk in the World
The house was old, and she loved that part. Undiscovered charm hid under layers of paint, wallpaper, paint on wallpaper over plaster, yikes, plus various home improvement attempts arrayed on a scale of WTF to WOW, and a vibe.
God, what a vibe!
When she walked onto the porch with the Realtor, she didn’t even make it inside before she knew she would buy it. In the beginning, she christened it the ‘House of Beige’ because every surface within was the essence of oncology waiting rooms.
“Man, do you need me,” she told her house.
“I am so much more,” the house whispered back.
That began a love affair consisting of roofing and windows, tête-à-têtes over refinishing and paint, and secret rendezvous with appliances.
She bought it also for the apartment, attached yet private, ideal for independence on the wane. With a friend, she updated and painted it so the colors felt welcoming, and they did. For the finale, she hung art, added flowers, made the space sing, and marked the time. Tick, tock, tick.
On her side, beige vanquished, the home returned to a sunny place of color, music, and kitchen dancing.
“We haven’t kitchen danced since…,” Sad Heart murmured.
“To be expected,” Standby Platitude interjected.
“Hey, I’m dancing,” she protested. “I hit the floor last weekend and groove in my car. But no, not in the kitchen. Not for a while; not since death started scratching at the door four years ago. It hasn’t been a goal.”
Dancing had always been one of her things.
Hmm, I suppose that I don’t dance as much as let music take a ride in my blood. It pumps, I bump, and we move. When I watch other people grooving, they have two or four patterns they repeat and that’s their way of expressing the song. I can’t do that; I move to the song itself, it’s not just the beat. Dance pushes me into the realm of unpredictable, bumping into the set-pattern people because the music needs to change up at this precise moment. Not spastic, not flailing, but it is a one-hundred percent interpretive escape. When dancing, I joy. As a verb. I will require space.
In her kitchen, before the slope grew sad and inevitable, she punked out by herself. Sometimes she listened to the old stuff that she played when the kids were little, Tina Turner or the Pointer Sisters. Tunes that got the car seats rockin’.
I need to rediscover dancing at home and give that back to myself. Maybe it’s as simple as starting to dance and letting the joy find me.
“Alexa, play Iggy Pop.”
Iggy’s baritone seeped into her bones and she tried groovin’ a bit, wiping counters, watering plants and dogs, tossing Rocco’s ball, and putting away the dishes. It felt pretty okay. The jangle of “Gardenia” opened, and a smile crossed her face. She let the song dance with her. The kitchen filled, and it was good. Iggy and she ebbed and flowed until she was sweaty, both empty and full.
Riding that wave, she decided tossing the flowers, sent by kind hearts to ease a birthday with no guest of honor, was bearable. She pulled the florist cards with gentle resignation. Small and stiff, she held them, running a fingertip over the surface, tracing the words. She ignored the haphazard stacks on the dining room table and placed the cards on a pile, then scratched Piper’s and Rocco’s heads.
“One step forward, two steps back,” she told Sad Heart and Standby Platitude. “Cha-chaing at a funeral. How’s that for kitchen dancing?”