At first glance, he wasn’t necessarily that impressive. Average height, rather average build and a t-shirt that said “You can’t make me care.” When I walked into that studio for the first time I had no idea what this rather average man would do to my life.
I stumbled through the door 15 minutes late. Being late wasn’t abnormal for me. In fact, given the grueling hours and unrelenting pressure that I faced every day, it was a courtesy I felt was owed to me. There he was. Piercing blue eyes staring out of a thin but strong frame. Even at that moment those eyes spoke to me. I felt dizzy and disoriented. What was wrong with me? My usual confident posture was momentarily leveled.
I was there to dance. My station had nominated me for a charity dance fundraiser. I had just settled on my personal brand and was starting to flourish in my new city. I’d always wanted to be recognized and my new gig as the small southern town’s premier investigative reporter was fulfilling that dream. He introduced himself. His voice was alarmingly smooth and familiar. I watched his eyes soften and laugh as I proceeded to tell him about what I envisioned for our number and began to search through my phone for the songs I’d chosen as potentials.
“Slow down,” he said.
Slow down? I never slowed down. Who was he to tell me to slow down? I had an hour and a half with the babysitter. My web story for the day hadn’t even been considered yet. I had a vision for this dance number and who is this “dance teacher” to tell me to slow down? He’s probably gay anyways.
Guess what? He wasn’t gay.
The next six weeks were filled with the most tangible sexual tension I’ve ever encountered. Each piece of choreography was a battle. I fretted and over analyzed, he tried to make me let go. He wanted me to trust, I needed control.
“You’re going to have to just relax and trust me,” he said. The harshness of his correction tempered by the smile in his eyes. I couldn’t do it.
This was the climax of our routine. A leg extension that sent me reaching out onto one leg, my weight balanced only by our countering weight. Both of us had to extend pass the point of no return. If either freaked and pulled out, one or both of us was headed straight for the floor. At this juncture of the evening, I’d hit the floor one too many times.
“Its the way you’re holding my foot!”
I was frustrated and embarrassed. Things always came easily to me. Why couldn’t I get this?
“One more time,” I said with a determined look in my eyes.
I reached for the other side of the room and when I felt my weight fall to the right, I clenched. He reached for me to keep me from hitting the floor and I pulled him down with me. I opened my eyes to see his lips hovering just above my forehead. The warmth of his breath across my brow. Realizing the studio had emptied, he let it linger long enough to solidify my hopes. In that moment an innocent crush turned fatal. Deep and overpowering, the emotional highs and lows woven into our relationship would carve a deep scar. As if in a premonition, we both seemed to recognize the enormity of it. His mouth floated down onto mine and I was transported. Very few words were exchanged as we wrapped up our lesson for the evening. My face hurt from smiling. Love sick and judgement happily clouded, I returned home to relieve the babysitter.