When my mother was a teenager, she went to the Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood, Minnesota. The golden, smooth, wooden dance floor looked out on Lake Minnewaska. Big bands would play. Tommy Dorsey. Jimmy Dorsey. Stars would come to this small, but elegant ballroom, and she would dance. In front of real, accomplished musicians, this farm girl would put on her dancing shoes, not high, but fast. She was a tall girl from Minnesota. And when she danced, she went to each place, every place, every place those musicians had played before – New York, New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, she was there. In every glided step, she was there. She was strong. She was beautiful and she belonged.
She would need that muscle memory. When her future husband would one day look at her and say, “I could kill you and it wouldn’t bother me a bit…” – she would use that muscle memory, that strong calved muscle memory of a pretty girl, with dreams of pretty things.
It was just yesterday when she felt the breezes from Lakeside Ballroom, dreamed of Frank Sinatra, gave her heart, smelled the youth of her children, broke her heart, and trusted her heart again. It was just today when the wind brushed her skirt, she hoped and twirled like a little girl.
When they told her she had cancer, she would use that muscle memory. Every day she would work her way again through the crowd of insecurities, fear, and step onto that dance floor. She was still a tall girl from Minnesota. A pretty girl who dreamed of pretty things. Don’t ever mess with the girl who knows how to twirl.