Thursday, June 23, 2011

Following In Florence's Footsteps

It's rarely a thrill to notice you have become just like your parents.

Usually it's during one of those not-so-flattering moments when you hear yourself say something or watch yourself do something and remember once upon a time you swore, swore, swore you'd never be like them but here you are be-ing just like them...

But how about those other moments when you notice you have become just like your parents?

I remember one day years and years and years ago during a visit to Florence - she was in her late sixties - watching her, as she held a little notebook filled with instructive notes, mesmerize me with tapping I didn't know lived in her feet. Growing up in Fred and Ginger movies, she had always wanted to tap. She alluded that it was a challenge to go to that class - maybe because she was older than everyone, maybe because she was reclaiming a dream too late. But she went until she couldn't anymore.

Facing the rest of my fifties, I decided to do what I had always wanted to do. It wasn't Fred and Ginger I wanted in my feet, but salsa music, what I heard all my life drifting onto Broome Street from the tenements, filling the neighborhood's bodegas, or blasting out of big cars zipping under the Williamsburg Bridge.

So I started taking a weekly free salsa lesson in the neighborhood. I may be old enough to be the other students' mother, and yeah sometimes sitting and watching the guys ask elegant, beautiful, young women to dance feels like I'm back in a junior high school nightmare.

But I am like my mother. Gotta dance.