and promptly wound up in a five-car interstate pile-up. thanks, hit and run driver!
So, I hopped out onto I-264 in my black evening gown and high heels, holding the train of my evening gown in one hand and my insurance card in the other.
Two hours later, mascara and nose running, perfectly glossy lips starting to chap from the cold, after having given statements to the highway patrol, the state troopers, the emergency responders, the insurance agents, the tow drivers, and the insurance agents again, I got dropped off at the waterside and took the dark, slow ferry ride back over to Portsmouth.
Still holding the train of my evening gown.
I ducked into the Mexican restaurant adjoining my apartment building in case my cell died and I needed to use their phone. The restaurant is one of three commercial spaces in the building, sandwiched between an art gallery and a nautical novelty store. The section of the building that houses the museum/restaurant is a beautiful, round, prism-ceilinged number. In the past it has been the front lobby of a railroad terminal, an office building, a convention center, and a ballroom. Now, it's open-plan and covered in ridiculously endearing teal carpeting, and it houses acrylics & oils on one side, margaritas and fajitas on the other.
I ducked into the restaurant, dead in the middle of winter, to finish my car crash-related calls. I wound up chatting with the bartender there, whom I did not realize had become my friend until he introduced me to one of his as 'mi amiga.' We started to talk about Latin music and I got out my ipod to show him one of my most beloved, favorite albums. 'But this is in Spanish!' he said. 'Dance it with me!'
So we wound up putting the ipod on the dock, and letting the strains of 'Beautiful Maria Of My Soul' float over the whole restaurant. And then we danced the mambo.
All the while, I was still holding the train of my evening gown.
I can't really describe the feeling, the sense of the sublime and the surreal: to go from standing outside on an interstate surrounded by wreckage, feeling cold and lonely and ridiculously independent because you have to be (not to mention supremely relieved that if you had to be involved in a 5-car pileup, at least you did it with a modicum of glamour) -
to doing the mambo on the ugly teal carpeting of a railroad terminal turned cheap mexican restaurant, with prisms reflecting high overhead and Antonio Banderas crooning out one of your most beloved songs, in a building by a boat dock on a river, all within the span of two hours.
We followed that up with Tito Puente and my favorite dance song of all time (that I never thought I'd actually get to dance to). In a restaurant, in a strange place, on a boat dock by a river. And then we switched to salsa-ing, and the handful of people in the restaurant watched us as though they envied us, and wished they could push back the chairs and join us, and outside there were passing oil tankers and ferries and tug boats, and inside there was life and light and music.
And somewhere in there, in between the mambo-ing and the salsa-ing and the have-i-mentioned-i-can't-dance-lol-ing, there was the slow dawning realization that if you just get out the door and hustle to be in the center of your life, the unholy, sublime, ridiculous surprises show up - the unexpected car crashes, and the unexpected romance. Because that's what life is.
All said and done, I think a little whiplash and a deductible was a small price to pay for this particular set of