This is Jean.
She's lived on 11th Street longer than 11th Street has. Same apartment too. Before, she was just a normal neighbor in a normal neighborhood. Now, she's an anomaly. We bump into each other once a year, sometimes twice. I just ran into her at the post office.
She loves light. All of us performing and jumping around on 11th Street, Jean was going to work, running big theater lights in big theaters, not small clip-ons in tiny store fronts. I remember hearing she got into the union. It was like hearing someone became an adult and won the lottery on the same day.
She's been running the follow-spot at City Center for a long, long time. Started part-time in 1988, went full-time in 1997. She's going to retire from there.
Every week she gets to turn that big spotlight onto another dancer from another company from somewhere else in the world coming to New York to perform. What they want, what they need, how it should look, in French, Spanish, English, back to French, back to English, then Spanish again... she waits five seconds after every decision is made, and then welcomes in, on the sixth second, their change of plans. Again, in French, Spanish, English, back to French, back to English, then Spanish again, until at some point what they want is clear and firm... or not... and then she waits another five second just to make sure...
...but the minute she flips that big spotlight's switch, and that white-gold, yellow-glow pours out onto a body moving in and out of space, all the words in all the languages shimmer away. And in their place a love unfold, just like when Fred takes Ginger in his arms and twirls her through the air like she was a feather.
Only it's Jean, with arms made of light, taking those dancers into an embrace and twirling them, and twirling them and twirling them and twirling them...
Before The Days Of Air And Conditioning
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