Dancing with Jane In Three Acts

My first words to Jane were asking her to dance.
It wasn’t like I had seen her from across a crowded room
and, as her eyes met mine, I knew I had to go and ask her.
Actually, if the truth be known, I hadn’t seen her at all
until those first familiar notes of one of those special songs
that holds a meaning deep inside, taking you back to another time.
It wasn’t one that I heard very often
but when I did hear it, it made me stop and let all those old feelings
fill me again.
For some reason, it always made me want to dance.
If I stop right now and tried to count the number of songs
that make me want to dance, I could count them on one finger.

I stood up in search of someone nearby who I could ask to dance.
Just as I stood, I saw three young women approaching.
The closest was a tall, slender, auburn-haired woman.
She was laughing at something and when I stood, she looked my way.
“Pardon me, but this is such a special song for me. Would you dance with me?”

I don’t know what she saw in my eyes but she gave me the sweetest smile
and said “Sure.” Then she did something very surprising,
although it wasn’t until later that it struck me is how sweet that gesture was.
For instead of waiting on me, she reached down and took my hand to lead me
to the open spot in the field where they were dancing.

Stupidly, maybe even rudely, I didn’t talk at first
for I was caught up in the song and the currents from a time long ago.
She must’ve known.
Maybe it had been the look in my eyes
or she sensed it from my silence and how I was looking off into the distance as we danced.
Somewhere towards the end of the song, I became more aware of her and the circumstances.

She was so warm next to me, dancing so close — not like with someone you just met.
Her head was tilted slightly towards mine, not touching
but close enough her hair would sometimes brush against my cheek.
I noticed the warmth first and then the faint scent of her.
Oh, Lord. I can smell it even now.
She was looking down a little until she seemed to realize
that I have moved from the distant thought and was now looking at her.
She started to raise her head when we had a bit of a misstep on the uneven ground.
We stumbled just a bit and then we both smiled and I looked deep into her eyes. 
Even in the darkness, I could see her eyes were green.

Let me stop my thoughts right here, for just a second.
I don’t want to make this a cliché or sound like some lovestruck fantasy.
But when I looked into her eyes, I knew.
What did I know?
Well, there is not an answer I can give that makes a bit of sense.
All I can say is “I knew”.
It wasn’t something silly like love at first sight
or some kind of childish romantic thought.
I just knew. I knew something was there, something meaningful,
something with depth, something I certainly wanted to explore.
Was it the song and the emotions that it brought forth?
No. The song had special meanings for me but not any that would relate to this.
Was it Spring? Was it this beautiful night?
No. It was none of that.
It was Jane, whose name at that point I didn’t even know. And so it began.

So, time passes as things between us began to develop. Oh, and develop they did.
Late one night found us driving down the highway long after midnight.
We were off to visit one of my best friends who had moved off to the West Coast
and was now back visiting family in friends in his hometown six or seven hours away.
He knew nothing of Jane.
Oh, I had mentioned her casually in a phone call not long ago
but that was when I learned that he was coming home
and I knew I was going there to visit, of course, with Jane.
No need to spoil the moment they met with any kind of expectations for he would know
just like I did.

He was a special friend, closer than family sometimes.
I knew how pleased he would be when he met her and saw what she meant to me.
He would know in an instant just how special she was — just like I did.
The night and miles passed as we sped along.

She slept comfortably leaning against me as I drove through the night.
I was listening to the Bill Mack show on WBAP, the Midnight Cowboy.
He was talking about Anne Murray and her big hit song “Can I Have This Dance?”
As usual, he had all kinds of insight about this song and about Anne Murray
and all the goings-on behind the making of that record.
Then he played it.
Just as the first notes began to play, I braked rather sharply and pulled to the shoulder.
Startled, Jane set up quickly and looked around.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you but come on” I said as I opened the door.
I reached for the volume on the radio and turned it all way up,
then grabbed Jane’s hand and gently pulled her from the car.
We were the only car in sight this late at night.
“What are you doing?” She asked as I pulled her further.
But I stopped in the middle-of-the-road, held out my arms to her,
said “We have to dance.”
There was not a moment’s hesitation before she smiled that shy sweet smile
and came into my arms.
It had to be somewhere between 2 and 3 AM.
We were in West Texas somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night,
in the middle of the highway, dancing
as Anne Murray sang “Can I have this dance (for the rest of my life)?”
The old cliche comes to mind – “Dancing with joy.”

Sometime later. How much later? It is hard to say.
For times of joy are difficult to measure. Sometimes they flash by in microseconds.
Sometimes, they seem to last forever.
Ah, but they don’t. They don’t.
There came a time when our joy still lived
but was somewhat under a shadow for we knew the time was short.
Why was that true?
Well, this is not the place for all those reasons and those truths.
But, we knew.

When we were out with friends, we often ended up
in a comfortable little country bar with live music.
The band members had become friends
and sometimes asked Jane to come up and sing with them.
She would get up and play a song or two
and inevitably the crowd would always ask her to sing some more.
But she rarely did.
Instead, she would come back to the table with me
and whatever friends might be with us on that night.
I don’t remember how the band found out
she and I loved the song “If You Could See Me Now”
We may have requested it a time or two.
Maybe we told them. I really don’t remember.
I know for a fact Jane never sang it there.
She would sing it at home now and then or sometimes, in the home of a friend.
But she never sang it out in public, for every time she sang it these days, she cried.
The band would play it every time we were there.
They didn’t know it made her cry for she hid that.
They did know that every time they played it she stood, took my hand, and led me to the dance floor.
With her head buried into my neck, it looked more like two people deeply in love dancing
instead of two who would soon say goodbye; one of whom was hiding her tears in the side of my neck.

Our last dance was to that song.
On that night, the emotions were too strong for her.
We danced to it, she cried, and we were out the door.

So now, amongst my memories, amongst moments of joy,
I have these times of when I danced with Jane.
Dancing with Jane in three acts.

Michael Mathews
June 20, 2021
3:53 PM Sunday afternoon
playing Dayna Kurtz on Spotify
In my RV on the lake somewhere near where I hear rumors of homes