Monday, July 24, 2006

Fire

I was 25 years old when I met him. We were at the same work-related conference...he had been in the field a few years longer than me...it was my introduction to my co-parts around the state. I did what I often do in situations where I'm the newgirl: I found the late night, dirty joke telling, beer drinking group of older men and rattled off a couple of doozies. Hey! The new young girl can hang. Sweet! (I've always been one of the guys...)

I don't think I noticed him that first night...but I remember he was there. Quiet in a corner with his beer...listening. It was the second night I really met him. We were at the same table at dinner so we had a chance to talk. Then, during the dance, we danced together...a lot. We joked on breaks about needing to sit in the hottub afterwards...after all, 4 hours of dancing will make the legs tired.

We closed down the hotel afterparty, he and I...outlasting the karaoke and the conversation... And he looked at me and said "ok...hottub?" I was floored. Until that moment, I thought we were joking. It was midnight... "Alright! Let's go..." I've never been one to turn down good conversation.

This particular conversation lasted another three hours... I told him my dramatic and sad tale about the loss of my antique piano off the side of a pickup...he taught me his college fight song. It was amazing the connection...and clear to both of us that a palpable chemistry was forming. "I keep hoping you'll say something stupid so I can go to bed," he told me. Apparently, I didn't....and neither did he.

We finally, reluctantly, parted ways to our separate rooms around 4 a.m. The world has not known such Herculean effort as we demonstrated that night: the single woman and the taken man...dancing around a bonfire...fighting to keep it inside the barricade. Relieved, if only a little, at having succeeded.

Fire is dangerous...and he and I were lucky that we were both smart enough to walk away before the flames got too high. It's a mark of adulthood, I think, to know when to say "enough"...and we did. But the reality is that encounters with fire make us feel alive...they reconnect us with forgotten parts of ourselves...remind us that we're still vibrant, breathing, joyful things. And suddenly, the monochrome moment is colorized in brilliant yellows and reds and orange...

We can't live in the middle of these blazes, of course...no camp would survive exposure to the white-hot core...and our lives must go on about the paths we have chosen, with all the responsibilities we rightfully carry. It would not do to hurt ourselves or others with our firedance.

But we, secretly nursing singed fingers, can smile knowing that we have not forgotten how to feel.

Fire is dangerous...and what a beautiful thing to behold.

4 comments:

ImpetuousProse said...

That's incredibly beautiful, and heart wrenching, and painfully accurate. I'm speechless.

miss shirley said...

Well said sister, well said. Bonfires are fun, but they don't last forever.

Anonymous said...

That was utterly beautiful. SImply perfect.

Phil Candreva said...

Brilliant.

OBTW, I never go anywhere without my Zippo. And a fire extinguisher.