all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

on telling the truth


















I danced with a man once at Barefoot Boogie who leaned in close after the music stopped, leaned in close with his arms and his chest and pressed himself against me. "You're so..." he closed his eyes, searching. We were both sweating - it had been one of the fast songs and we'd been twirling each other around and around - and I was trying to catch my breath. Finally, he opened his eyes and looked straight into me. "You're so real," he finished, and there was such gratitude in his face, such sincerity, that I tried to put aside that first, instinctive feeling of wanting to roll my eyes, then run away and add this to my growing Only-in-California list. I wrestled with myself, because I knew what it sounded like to me - a bad kind of flirting, a silly come-hither kind of thing a guy would say, trying to woo a girl into his fold and make her his forever...or for a night, at least. And that while it was sort of sweet in some weird San Francisco-dance-community-I-grow-my-own-dope-but-I'm-happy-to-share-it-with-you sort of way, I found it hard to really take it in. I hadn't felt any more "real" on the dance floor with him. I was pretty sure I was the same person who'd dropped into the studio an hour earlier, hesitating to take off my socks and shoes and get my boogie on in front of strangers. I was just dancing, that's all...so what, exactly, was he seeing?

I realized, later, that it had so little to do with me. Perhaps it had been awhile since he found a willing dance partner. Perhaps it had been awhile since he'd been around another woman's sweat. Maybe it had felt like forever since he'd had even the slimmest thread of connection with another person. I thought by telling me how "real" I was, he'd been trying to pierce through me somehow, extracting some quiet, bubbling kernel of Maya that needed to be discovered. And it seemed ridiculous to me that that could happen after just one dance, with a guy whose name I didn't know, and goatee I didn't much like, who was dripping his sweat right onto the front of my shirt. I thought I was as real as I could possibly be with a strange man in yoga pants and a receding hairline. In fact, I was trying to get even more real with the desire to leave the scene entirely and go home and shower myself free of the whole thing. But maybe this one, single dance had meant something to him - that's what he was really trying to say. Maybe he hadn't felt "real" in a long time, for any number of reasons, and these few spins around a hardwood floor in the Mission gave him something of the realness he craved. It didn't matter that I couldn't quite believe him, that I distrusted his words because of my innate suspicion of anything that sounded like a come-on. But it wasn't about me. Not really. He was telling the truth about him.

6 comments:

la vie en rose said...

priceless observation. i tend to agree and believe that a lot of what people say, even aboout us, is more about them than about us. and it also seems that there are times in life when moments that seem real, alive, are few and far between. you recognized that this was a priceless moment for him, even if it wasn't for one for you

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this - provided me of such a vivid picture of the scene. And the line "In fact, I was trying to get even more real with the desire to leave the scene entirely and go home and shower myself free of the whole thing" made me chuckle out loud. I reread it a couple of times. Thanks for sharing.
Rebecca

snowsparkle said...

i like this image of the round rocks underwater... to me, it reminds me of people all packed together, brushing up against one another, softening our hard edges while life bubbles and dances all around us. i can see you in this story better than i can see him, because to me, it's a piece about you're sparkling jewel of a heart, your clear, warm topaz vision, and your generosity and kindness.

Dale said...

Yes, that's exactly what it is.

Kumar Chetan said...

Truth tastes harsh and bitter most of the time.

Mungo Mac said...

Wow. That's some (over) analysis.

Why pollute the moment with the delving into that which isn't there?

Everything you wrote about what you thought he felt or wanted to say is your truth, not his.

"...maybe this one, single dance meant something to him - that's what he was really trying to say..."

What utter twaddle.

He told you what he wanted to say. He said it. And you dismissed that truth with your own insecurity.

It's quite obvious to me that because of you his moment of bliss existed.

And I feel sad that you were not able to enjoy that.