The Dancers

(Hideaway Restaurant & Lounge, the Hill)

I turned and noticed something that stripped all of the cynicism out of me. A couple was twirling together on the dance floor, dancing to the white-haired piano man's version of "Let It Be Me." They were older; I had the impression they weren't married or dating -- just two people who had met one night late in life and decided to engage in a dance. It was the woman who really captivated me. Her expression was blissful, tragic, even beatific. It was a face that had aged, it was true, but one that was beautiful and elegant in that way only age makes possible. Gracefully sculpted by life experience: quiet, dignified, tempered, accepting, warm, forlorn. With her eyes closed, her hands pressed against her partner's shoulder, she was magnificent and fragile, simultaneously vulnerable and reserved.

I watched them dance, their movements suggesting something vital. I couldn't quite articulate it, though, couldn't figure out what was touching me so deeply. Was it their sincerity that made me feel so ashamed for all the callousness I've cultivated? In their movements I recognized how delicate and wonderful it was to be alive, to be human. How poetic, lonely, terrifying, temporary. All of these things swirled in my head. Everything else around me fell into a penumbra, got lost in meaninglessness. Then that song ended and another began.

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