Shall we dance?

dina and elia

All of us have childhood memories, some are happy and some are not so happy. Often the painful memories are the ones that stay with us, reappearing at seemingly the most inopportune moments until we heal them. The happy memories tend to fall into the background, often coming to the surface as nostalgia of good times past. There is another set of memories though, the memories of pure joy. They are neither painful nor sadly nostalgic, they make us smile and feel alive. For me, many of these such memories have to do with dancing with my mother and brother as my dad played the keyboard.

Both of my parents were talented musicians. My mom played the piano, my dad played both the violin and the piano. Sometime in the 70s my mom decided to give up playing entirely while my dad shifted his focus from playing the “boring” music to the kind that fed his (and our) soul. Generally he played pop music of the 1940, 50s, 60, 70s and fun Jewish music, the kind that is played at weddings. Whenever our dad played, we danced. My brother and I are the only people I know who can honestly say that we learned how to dance at home, with our parents.

It’s a Tuesday evening July 12, 1988, New England, around 7 pm. We have just had dinner. As my brother and are clearing the table, our dad sits down at his keyboard and begins to play. Quickly, we throw the dishes into the sink and run into the living room to perform our dance routine.

All of us have childhood memories, some are happy and some are not so happy. Often the painful memories are the ones that stay with us, reappearing at seemingly the most inopportune moments until we heal them. The happy memories tend to fall into the background, often coming to the surface as nostalgia of good times past. There is another set of memories though, the memories of pure joy. They are neither painful nor sadly nostalgic, they make us smile and feel alive.My brother pretends he is an old man and I pretend I am an old woman. Hunched over, we start at opposite corners of the room and shuffle our way to the center where we meet, clasp our elbows and suddenly becoming young, begin to spin, spin, and spin until we become dizzy. We switch directions and spin some more until we are so dizzy the floor seems to move and we have to do our best to remain upright. Then, we unclasp our elbows, face each other, bring our mom into our circle and continue the dance. Our dog, a springer spaniel named Bim, no longer able to contain himself, runs into the center of the room, jumping and barking. Sometimes I have to pick him up and dance with him in my arms because his sharp claws scratch us too much.

Such nights were regular events for us growing up. When my brother and I became teenagers and began to dance outside of home, we realized how big of a blessing those nights were because we were the only people in the room who knew how to dance and were actually comfortable dancing.

Sadly, our mom is no longer with us. We fondly remember these fun evenings and our dance family is ever growing. I am looking forward to more dancing at my brother’s upcoming wedding. Perhaps my brother and I should bring back our old man / old woman routine?

Article originally published in Holistically Savvy

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