The Dance

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I was at my friend’s thirteenth birthday party, wearing a brand new UNITS outfit, complete with stockings, matching flats, and as much makeup as Mom allowed (lip gloss and eye shadow). The room was dark and Phil Collins crooned “Groovy Kind of Love” loudly from the stereo. Plastered against the wall, we girls waited while the boys joked and jeered, acting like idiots. Fervently I prayed for this night to be different from the others before it. Just let a boy notice me. I want to have fun tonight.

With their hands shoved deep inside the pockets of their wrinkled khakis, the boys sauntered across the room one by one. I watched and waited, my heart beating so fast I thought it might jump out of me and onto the tacky carpet. A huge smile spread across my face when C approached me, and I shyly looked at the floor after I realized he was asking the girl next to me to dance.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, I thought. Of course he wasn’t coming for me. But someone else will. It’ll be my turn soon, I consoled myself, standing up a little straighter, smoothing out my hair and my skirt.

Pick me. Pick me. Oh please God just let one of them pick me. I’ll do anything. All I want is one dance. One boy. ONE. Please?

Couples kept pairing off, slowly swaying to the music. A heaviness settled over me, replacing the giddy feeling I’d had just a little while ago. Teenagers’ bodies are wrapped together like the curled ribbons atop the birthday presents stacked on a nearby table.

I started feeling clumsy, awkward and very much alone. Each time a boy crossed to the girls’ side of the room, I held my breath, waiting, my pulse quickening. Each time, someone else was chosen. Fingers first tentatively touching, then hands firmly grasping as they drifted to the dance floor. It felt just like P.E., when I was usually the last one picked for a team; only this time, the sting was worse, deeper. Sharp and sudden.

I was all alone. Again. Even in the middle of a fucking party.

My eyes brimmed with tears but fortunately the darkness hid my sadness. I ran to the restroom because I couldn’t stand it anymore. I cried for what seemed like eternity. Someone came in to console me, but it meant nothing because she’d had a dance partner all evening.

I found a phone and called my mom. When I heard her voice the tears started again, but I managed to choke out, “Mom, can you please come and get me?”

“Sure, sweetheart, I’ll be right there,” she said.

I looked back one last time into the darkened room. I’d left a part of myself there, but I wasn’t going back in. It wasn’t worth it.

Today’s prompt was: Memoir isn’t about what happened, it’s about what those small or large moments illustrate. In other words: This is a piece about (x), illustrated through (y).

So, for this week, we want the (x) to be hope.

Meaning:

This is a piece about hope, illustrated through (y).

What is the (y)? Only you know. You have that truth—those stories in you. Now share it with us.

In 400 words or less. A true story about hope, illustrated through your experiences.

**I wrote about hope from long ago. My constant longing to belong: I was always hoping to be accepted, hoping to be part of the crowd instead of a loner always left on the sidelines.**

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  • Hollee Temple

    This is another amazing piece, Erin (sorry to use that overused word). I am right in the moment when I read your work. I think you would also like the work of Diane Tarantini, who writes mostly fiction on a blog called Caught Butterflies. You sort of remind me of each other!

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Hollee,

      I will check out Diane soon. Don’t worry, I overuse amazing all the time (as well as a slew of others), so it’s no big deal! Thanks for introducing me to another new blog. And as usual, I appreciate your reading and commenting.
      xoxo
      wish you were going to Tribefest!!!

  • http://twitter.com/lauraBseymour Laura S.

    I agree with Hollee. Maybe it’s because we’re the same age, with kids similar ages, and share a similar feeling of always being right on the periphery? But I always remember a situation that I’ve been in myself, every time I read something you’ve written. The outcome may be different, but the emotion is very much the same. And yes, I’ve been at this dance, many, many times. 

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Laura,

      Let’s hope our kids never have to endure these kinds of dances! Let’s band together and boycott the uncomfortable, awkward school sock hops, shall wee? MASH (Moms Against Sock Hops)???

  • Erma

    Beautiful!

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Thank you, sweet Erma!
      HUGS!

  • http://terrisonoda.net/ Terri Sonoda

    I remember this (my particular this) as if it happened yesterday, and for me it was over 40 years ago.  School dance. Waiting to be asked.  The hope.  The hurt.  Felt it all as I read this.  Your treatment of the prompt was spot on, Erin.  Beautiful writing.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Terri,

      So ironic because as I was reading some of the others’ responses to the prompt, I felt my post was piddly and stupid. But I’m grateful you can relate! Thank you for reading and I will miss you in Vegas this weekend. If anything changes, I’ll be at the Venetian and the room is under my name…and I think you have my cell?

      xoxoxo

  • Tulpen Elefanten

    Oh man.  That song. Those gawd awful dances.

    How does any girl survive junior high?

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Tulpster,

      I honestly don’t know. But the pretty/popular girls seemed to like it all just fine.

  • http://www.postdivorcechronicles.com LeeBlock

    I swear when I started to read this post, it was me at about every single party through high school and junior high. Even now I’m dancing alone.  I am sure this summed up so many others experiences too…great writing as usual….xxoo

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Lee,

      You are not dancing alone b/c I am dancing WITH YOU. Even though I’m far away.
      And we can dance together in a few weeks! xoxoxo

  • http://janasthinkingplace.com/ Jana A (@jana0926)

    Wow. Beautiful and heartbreaking. 

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Thank you, Jana!
      xoxo

  • Cara Smith

    I remember those days so well.  Not being asked to dance, not being invited to the party, not sure where it was acceptable to sit at lunch, when the only friend I shared a lunch period with was out.  I’m not sure how the kids with these same struggles make it through now in a time with social media.

  • http://twonormalmoms.blogspot.com/ Ally

    That was both touching and painful to read. Painful because of how deeply I can relate. For a moment, I thought you were writing about me. Your writing is splendid, as usual.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Ally,

      you are too kind. I’m glad you could relate so well, but am sorry for all that you had to go through as well. those were not fun times, but i think they made me stronger, and obviously contributed to who i am today.
      xoxoxoxxo

  • http://thewomanformerlyknownasbeautiful.com/ Shannoncolleary

    Beautiful storytelling and I would’ve asked you to dance!

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Thank you, Shannon! And I totally would’ve danced with you! ;-)

      You rock my world!

  • Anonymous

    Erin, great post! I was this girl also … actually I do remember once school dance I will never forget with a boy I had the world’s biggest crush on – he danced with me at a sock hop 6th grade dance while holding his Dr. Pepper in the other hand – I didn’t care or even notice. It was a casual kinda dance. He was my crush and dancing with me instead of the popular girls. He didn’t know about the crush – we were great friends! It made my day – I couldn’t sleep at all that night when I got home from being to excited! LOL!

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Omh, Lissa, he DID NOT! He really held his drink while he was dancing with you? I guess when I was that age, I probably wouldn’t have cared about that, either. So funny the little things/memories we think about when we get older, you know?
      I can also relate to that excitement keeping me up at night. So glad you got to dance w/ your crush that time! Thank you for reading & commenting and always sharing my posts.
      xo

  • Lindsay @Lilloveandluck

    Pretty much sums up my entire 5-8th grade experience.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Lindsay,

      Well you’re lucky then because this was the case for me mostly until I was a senior in high school and finally had my first real boyfriend! OMG! ;-)

      So glad we’ve connected!
      #NOLAgirlsrock

  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com Elaine A.

    This was me at EVERY frakin’ middle school dance.  Well, except for the one when I was “going with” someone and we danced to “Man in the Mirror” by Micheal Jackson.  What a lame song to dance to, though, right?  Anyway, I TOTALLY get this.  We yearn SO badly for that acceptance at this age.  It’s so hard.  I am not looking forward to going through this with my girl someday.  I hope she gets asked to dance every time.

    Okay, gotta go before I cry. 

    love you… xoxoxo

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Elaine,

      Somehow? I have a feeling our girls will never know the same trials we did. Also? I love that MJ song. Just heard it on the radio yesterday.

      love you too, and so excited you’re going to post for me!
      xoxox

  • Juliecgardner

    My heart broke a little for your 13-year-old self. 

    Those silly boys don’t know what they missed.

    (Funny how I seemed to know the same ones…)

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Julie,

      I’m sorry you knew the same ones. But I bet you got asked to dance! ;-)
      xoxoxoxoxo

  • http://makemommygosomethingsomething.com/ Kimberly

    This was beautifully written. Reminds me so much of those days…

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      THanks, Kim!

      ps. looking forward to your response post on that blog comment…it really got to me, too. wonder if she really meant it that way? wtf?

  • Frelle

    My heart broke for you.  I never attended parties where there was dancing, but had plenty of high school dances.  I was never asked one time to dance.  Amazing how raw those feelings still are, when I read something like this. thank you for giving voice to that inside me.  I connected very much with you in this moment.  *HUG*

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin margolin

      Thanks, Frelle.

      Honestly? I think we are the ones who are better off in the end. And I like to think no one asked us to dance b/c maybe they were too intimidated by us.
      right?!?!

  • IASoupMama

     Ugh… that was so my teenage experience.  Any girl with more brains than boobs…  It’s OK, though, because I fell for the guy who didn’t dance with anyone and now we’re dancing happily through life together.

    Beautifully paced piece!

  • Sela Toki

    Gone are the days where the girls wait for the boys to ask them to dance.   Now-a -days, girls just jump into the dance floor and boogie whether they get asked or not.  LOL.  Through your words, I didn’t need to imagine anything, you took me back to that dance floor, watching you as a 13 year old and feeling both the anticipation and the heaviness.  At one point or another, we’ve gone through similar experiences when we were 13.  Love your blog. 

  • http://misadventuresofmrsb.com/ Mrs. Jen B

    The only time a boy ever asked me to dance was when my girlfriends made them do it.  So I felt the pain here, all over again.  I like how you point out that it was pointless for another girl to console you – because SHE had been dancing throughout the night.  So true, so real.  

  • http://www.babesrockinmami.com/ stephanie

    I never got asked to dance, not once.

  • http://www.thekircorner.com Kir

    “Teenagers’ bodies are wrapped together like the curled ribbons atop the birthday presents stacked on a nearby table.”
    I loved that line, something about it was so real and took right back to the dances.

    I remember before High School and not being asked to dance, the truth was whenever no one was asking me, I went and asked them. I was frisky, even back then. I don’t even know why..my daddy issues, my innate optimist, and having a little sister who had GUMPTION, I wanted Gumption too.

    But I remember this feeling with the other girls in my classes. Practically begging them to like me for any reason. I felt these emotions, It was just with the young women who would shape my self esteem, not the men. (not yet)