A continuation of I Don't Let My Freak Flag Fly
Jolt. That was the best way to describe what I felt when my sweet Inner Child was floating invisible above my head, staring at this young man whom might be a little drunk singing to absolutely no music playing whatsoever. But that lone lyric to "Hit me Baby One More Time" that every 90's baby in America has sung at one point or another hit me hard into nostalgic days in my high school best friend's living room singing karaoke. I get a spark of energy from most people that I talk to when I see them in their element, but this person was different. I had seen him around at a few other events, I'm sure of it, but I was preoccupied with other conversations with other people that I was just sort of aware that he was there and I may have thought, "you do you" at one point, but I kept on with my own conversations and whatnot at these events. Yes, I had seen him dancing wildly (which my Inner Child cheered about and then focused on the people that weren't quite out of their shell completely yet), but I hadn't really considered getting into his space because he seemed to gather some attention from other people and I'm one to go to the wallflowers rather than the center of attention. But now there was no doubt: this jolt had activated a certain mechanism in me that made me act without thinking and make my way towards him. It's the law of the dance floor in its purest form: stop thinking and just do. As my first ballroom dance instructor said, It's just dancing, after all. It doesn't have to be anything more than that.
He was still swaying back and forth when I finally found myself with a noticably blank look about two feet in front of him, my mind racking my extensive library of memorized lyrics for the next line of the song. It had been so long since I had listened to the song, but the memory of Kate belting it out with such passion came to mind and I felt my face contort into a familiar, overdramatized look. My Inner Child's eyes sparkled, both of us ready as he stopped whirring his head around and instead looked slightly confused as he focused on the lady now standing in front of him.
I took a deep breath that expanded to my lower back and began my part in this odd duet I decided to start.
"'My loneliness is killing me AND I I must confess, I still believe STILL BELIEVE'"
It looked like it took him a few moments to understand that I was continuing the Britney Spears antics he had just started, but once he realized it his eyes widened slightly and he grabbed me by the shoulders. He began rocking back and forth, head leaned in slightly towards me and then singing wildly and throwing his head back with abandonment. His body language was so free and open, and my Inner Child wholeheartedly responded by swaying back and forth with him and singing along with him as he picked it up. I think he may have even switched to a completely different song altogether to sing to, but I remember that we backed away and were palm to palm when suddenly the music came back on with a new song.
I had no idea what this song was after a few measures, and I told him that too. He didn't seem familiar with it either, but one thing was clear: that was not going to stop us from dancing to it together. We already had a hand connection, although I had no idea what I was in store for next. He raised our still palm-to-palm hands above our heads, and then I felt a familiar switch of the way he held my hand when he lowered one for me to instinctively do an underarm turn.
He knows how to partner dance.
I felt the giddiness of his Inner Child meeting hands with my Inner Child as he recognized the familiar connection of someone that has developed the muscle firing of a dance follower, both of our Inner Childs unable to contain their energy and ready to whirl around like schoolchildren.
Luckily, what actually happened was much, much more epic than simply whirring around like crazy kindergartners.
I wish I remembered every move he executed and how I responded from the outside, but I only remember bits and pieces of moves. What I always remember is how I felt during the dance. When I partner dance with someone for the first time, I typically feel them out to understand their capabilities, tone down my dancing a few notches if I need to so that I don't overwhelm or overpower them, and if I sense a certain personality from their dancing I let out my sassy Inner Child just a smidgen.
With this guy? I didn't have to do any of that. Dancing with him felt more like I was dancing with a second me: Leading me a similar way. Caring and mindful of my movements and others around us. Allowing me to express myself and adding some dramatic moves and gestures back and forth (I do remember breaking away from his hands when my back was to him in a shadow position, then turning around and waving my finger in front of him with a mock tsk tsk look before offering my hands for connection again).
I've danced with professional salsa dancers, championship-level standard dancers, and people that have been dancing for over 30 years. While those were great fun dances that left me energized and on my toes from how wonderful the dance was, I've always found that it took a few times of dancing together before I got to having a dance connection that was effortless and fun for both of us.
That was a non-issue here. I got that familiar feeling of trust and wacky inputs right from the getgo with this guy, which has never happened before. My Inner Child was launching fireworks, blown away by how quickly and how beautiful this dance connection developed and how present and alive I felt with this person, not worrying about what's coming next and simply allowing myself to feel the music and vibes that radiated from him. Every movement was effortless and fun, and at this point I wasn't even sure if anyone was watching us (which most of the time, I'm usually at least aware that someone is watching). Looking back, both of us seemed so wide and open to whatever we were experiencing at the event as a whole that it made sense that we would connect so well together with our very-similar energies.
As the song neared an end and we finished away from each other, I outstretched my left arm freely for a hug which he obliged, both of us grinning ear to ear and laughing chest to chest as we threw our chins over each others' shoulders. We had an invested connection here that I could feel, and I think he could too.
"That was awesome!" He panted out with a distinctly German accent, trying to catch his breath while I felt his heartbeat drumming against my torso. Confirmed, it was as exhilarating for him as it was for me. I laughed again and asked him his name. We broke away into a hold by the arms and he told me his name. I told him mine, we thanked each other for the amazing dance and some kind of remark about dancing again, and I took a seat by the front of the stage next to the woman I was speaking to 15 minutes before.
He kept on dancing, but I needed a few moments to lay back and absorb. My Inner Child actually blocked out the music and whirled around my head, spinning and laughing. This felt amazing! I didn't think I'd experience a dance like that here in Portland. I enjoyed every minute of it, and my heart was still flipping around. I threw my head back so I was practically laying on the stage, staring up at the stars. How exhilarating! I HAD to dance with him again.
My friend from earlier saw me with my big goofy smile on my face, practically blushing, and she said, "Soak it up! Enjoy it, lady." Oh, how I did. I looked over at him, a slightly calmer dancer while he tried to talk to people and dance at the same time, but inevitably he stopped dancing and talked to someone and moved to the other side of the stage. There was another girl dancing with him that was also pretty enthusiastic, and I'd seen her with a few other people dancing around like nobody's business. I loved her energy too!
But now that the exhilaration started to fade, my mind focused on how he projected his energy level on the dancefloor and how he pulled away mid-songs to have conversation with others. Just from these two observations, I thought to myself, I can tell he's very personable yet he loves to let loose like no one else here.
What's his story? Why did he come here? Everyone at this event, the World Domination Summit (a modest name), came here for a very specific reason based off of conversations I've had with others. I want to know his.
I danced around with Andrea from earlier and PJ, another attendee that I had bumped into more than a few times together, and as we danced to another song, I took Andrea's hands and taught her a couple partner dance moves to follow me. I was taking my mind off of the situation and focus back on the music and my own movements, letting in the people that enter our dance group or want conversation with me.
Another song played and my Inner Child begged for more sporadic dancing, which I indulged in and to my surprise my dancing guy came along and we danced in front of each other, both of us burning with life in our movements to the music. He wrapped an arm around me and I danced closer to him. If his and my Inner Child physically existed, they would probably have been frolicking arm in arm in squigley lines across the dancefloor. However, this dance was short as we had caught the tail end of it, and that's when I decided I would ask him about his story. I asked him a few small talk questions to get him talking to no avail, and as the dance ended he wrapped his arms around me again, squeezing my sides.
"I like flirting with you," he huffed out, and I swear he must have played up his accent more when he said it for extra effect.
It worked. I had already taken an interest in him already, but I tried to keep it to dancing since with dance, it's just dance. It never has to be anything more, even if I wanted it to. I never take dancing with someone passionately as something that should translate off of the dance floor other than friendship. Until now.
With this statement, I realized I wanted it to be a little bit more. Just for a little while, to see if he's as impressive not dancing as he is when he is dancing.
A few flirtatious exchanges later, I realized I was feeling a little dehydrated. "I'm going to go get some water. Come with me?" I said, motioning to the far end of the park this party was in.
We walked over and I asked him what brought him to the World Domination Summit in the first place. Surly he had a specific reason if he was coming all the way from Germany.
"For the experience and to meet new people." He abruptly replied, face somewhat blank. This took me aback a little. I wasn't expecting such a shut-out answer like that from someone that danced his butt off on the dancefloor.. I was hoping to hear a more extensive answer.
"For the experience and to meet new people?" I repeated back to him, and he nodded. I felt jipped. He wasn't lying, but he obviously wasn't telling me the whole story. There was definitely more to it than that.
"What about you?" he asked.
I took a deep breath. "Do you want the long version or the short version?"
For those that have never had a conversation with me, I have the bad tendency to say WAYYY too much about what is going on in my life to everyone that will listen (of course, I've learned when to cut it short if the person doesn't want to listen, but for the most part I don't bore them). So of course, I didn't intend to tell this stranger about my dream to go to Detroit to be part of the revitalization plans. I didn't intend to tell him that I lost friends because they thought I was crazy and I felt alone in my silly ideas and other entrepreneurial endeavors. I didn't intend to tell him that I just wanted confirmation and some help figuring out how to do it within the year, and I surely didn't intend to tell him with such emotion how little I feel understood back at home. I didn't intend to tell him that there was a man that climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro last year and died that deeply inspired my decision to come here because when he wrote about his passions he didn't make me feel so alone in my weird endeavors.
Intentions are one thing. Fighting back instinct is another. I don't know why, but between the connection we had and my desire to not hold back even though he did, I just told him everything. And as I did, I noticed he was listening really well (but that might have been because I was not really letting up how fast I speak which is usually overwhelming to everyone), and when I brought up feelings of loneliness, I saw a small spark in his eye. He either related or he felt some kind of empathy for me. And suddenly, he responded.
I wish I remember exactly what he said to me, but he poured out suggestions for how to look at my situation, especially when worrying about my parents. Some of these were things I've heard before, but his unique way of putting it resonated with me more than previous talks I had with my therapist and my life coach.
But then he said something that made me pause and reflect on what his character really is like.
"I don't like having to open myself up," he outstretched his arms wide, "and then have to close," and he balled his arms into his chest, leaning into himself for effect. He repeated the action a few more times, and I felt like I saw his Inner Child slumped on a stump when I looked into his eyes. This one struck me to the point where I felt my heart jump at the thought of wanting to be yourself wholly and completely and protecting yourself from the naysayers. I had just gotten rid of a lot of toxic people in my own life just recently, so it was like my Inner Child was on the opposite side of the stump from his. Where I initially thought he was a flamboyant and highly extroverted person, perhaps him being so outgoing on the dance floor was actually out of his element, but not willingly. Someone mayhad beaten his free spirit down when he exposed it when he "shouldn't have." And I felt like I could relate in that moment. How many times had I been so happy and free growing up expressing myself physically, mentally, and emotionally only to feel like those rights had been taken away when someone would come along and stomp on my spirit's wings?
He was making the gesture of opening himself wide and balling himself into his chest a few more times, still talking about feeling oppressed, when I smiled and said, "You have a story to tell." And I want to hear it while sitting down, I thought. He looked away for a moment. Perhaps I gave my ability away: my ability to open up with people very quickly.
Unfortunately it was late and the dance was winding down, and I had a fifteen minute walk back home from there. So I started saying my goodbyes when some other guy came up to talk to us.
"You were out there really dancing. So does everyone from Boston dance like that?" this man said, eyeing me in a very interested way.
"Absolutely not. I'm the lone nut on the dancefloor." I replied, smiling but not particularly interested in him myself. What I said to him wasn't entirely true, but as far as he was concerned, if he wasn't around my circle of friends he wouldn't have seen many people dancing like me. "I'm usually the person dancing like a crazy person so everyone else feels better about dancing. I make them look good." I laughed, and so did he. That part was true. Even among my friends, I'm usually the first one dancing in a public place.
Then he turned to my new dance partner. "You were dancing really hard out there too. At one point I was like, 'Is he okay? Do we need to get him help?' "
Something about that statement pissed me off. I know this person was simply making a joke when he said this, but it bothered me that he would refer to his dancing like that. Maybe I'm the weird one, but I love it when people dance like maniacs. It shows how careless and free form they are, and I really admired that about this guy. To hear someone knock him down like this made me sad, although he seemed to laugh and brush it off.
"He was awesome though!" I exclaimed, trying to negate what this guy that came out of nowhere (but seemed to take an interest in me just slightly) had said about my new dance partner's dancing. He didn't seem to understand that he was getting teased about his dancing and went with it, so I left it at that.
I wanted more conversation with him. I wanted a little more dancing with him. I wanted to know what inspired him, what he read, what projects he's working on, what his biggest passion was, and which person inspired him to come to this event. I could have easily stuck around and talked more, but I made a social faux pas and caught a bit of a conversation someone was having with him while I was standing in front of them, heard it as something, and mock-yelled at him. He was confused. Nope, Samantha. You don't know him well yet, you can't do things like that.
He seemed like he just wanted to go to his Airbnb in the opposite direction of my summer dormitory housing. So I began saying my goodbyes, and when I got to my new dance friend, I hugged him and gave him a peck on the cheek, something I never do with people I just meet. He smiled subtly, and I got so flustered that I said goodbye to another girl that had been hanging around that I also wanted to get to know better and left for home without looking back to pause and take in the whole view of the dance site.
Tomorrow's another day, I thought, and if we connected so well, I'll most likely see him at some point again this weekend. And if I don't, oh well, this was a beautiful little moment right here. But I'm not going to force social situations.
Little did I know that he and I had a little more in common than I thought, and he was going to be someone that would impact me more than I realized.