Contra thoughts at 1:14 am

Although the rest of the 20-something world is perhaps enjoying the peak of their evening at this time, I am returning home, tired and riding a coffee high from my drive back to Springfield, VT from Greenfield, MA, where three teenagers and a 7 year old enjoyed one heck of a contra dance with me. Usually this type of adventure would end with me curling into bed, my deepest thoughts concerning whether the below zero temperatures require me to wear a hat to sleep or not, but tonight my inside's burst not only with the tingling effects of caffeine but also sweet joy.You see, tonight I watched three girls emerge from their existences as mill-town observers to find themselves surrounded by and active participants in a world where men wear skirts to feel air rush between their legs when they turn and no one says no when asked to dance unless there is a bathroom emergency. I messied myself in attempts to remember steps and follow after months of leading, feeling very much a peer to these teenagers I may have eyed at a distance even recently. There is comfort in this western MA world for me - this is where I spent my undergraduate years and I know these people - and yet being here is a good reminder of how quickly we adapt to the places we live in. The sparkle in my eyes matched Eliza, Shena, Kamryn, and little Shanikwa.I danced with my lady friends and with another child, El, who at 8 could have taught most people there how to dance in lines, changing partners, twirling and coming together. I also sat and held the head of the child I brought with me, the rest of her body bundled up in a sleeping bag as the night grew late, and I imagined what it would be like to have a child grow up with such comfort in this social, free space. Eliza, Shena, and Kamryn bring a little of this dance home with them, which may be seen in sparkley shoes and vocal attempts to convince their male counterparts to join the party next go around. And I bring home another reminder of happiness found in the firm hand of another pressing against my lower back, relaxed and smiling.