Road weary from the long ride, I decide to stop at a local cafe to take a break, rest my bones, and get a bite to eat. I’m pleasantly surprised to find out it’s a wine cafe. I order an bold Sangiovese, and gorditas con carnitas to fill the emptiness in my stomach. The patrons are colorful and animated here, I pick up on their energy, and find I’m moving to the music on the stereo here. A large table of men are finishing their meals, as I notice they’re in costume. I can’t tell for what, but it looks to me Mexican traditional dress.
I also notice an attractive woman, sitting on her own in a corner booth. She’s engrossed in a book, but I also see her looking around, is she waiting for someone I wonder? Her eyes were immediately mesmerizing to me, the depth and just a hint of sadness in them. Maybe she was alone after all? Suddenly I noticed the costumed men leaving, and cheerfully speaking in Spanish to the waitress. I am not sure what they are saying, but it all looks very grateful and happy. The wine is deep and complex, maybe one of the best I have had recently.
I look again over at the intoxicating woman in the corner; she catches my eye for a brief moment, then returns to her book. Was that a playful look, I wonder? The door of the cafe opens suddenly, startling me, and I am very pleased to see it’s the costumed men again. But, now they all have instruments, and I see they’re a Mariachi band. They speak again to the waitress, and I see her lead them to a corner near the kitchen entrance, and they begin to tune their instruments.
They take only a moment to sort out, and then they burst into a lively song. It’s absolutely amazing music, so perfect for the time and place. I raise my glass to them in complete appreciation, as the music blends with the wine and the surroundings. Moments of bliss are rare and wonderful, if you’re paying attention, and are open to the experience, and this was one right here.
The cafe patrons were all enjoying the unexpected music, and all were moving to the compelling rhythms of the songs. I looked over to the ‘reader’ in the corner, and was surprised to see that she too was captivated by the spontaneous show. Her head was moving to the beat, and her feet were keeping time to the bass player’s rhythm. I was also happy to see that an older couple had gotten up, and were dancing to the infectious melody of the salsa song.
They moved gracefully like a pair that had been dancing all their lives, with intimate knowledge of each other’s moves. I was envious of such synchronicity of movement and emotion. It was a deep desire I had not yet realized in my life.
The Tapas came and I ate with a new found energy. Possibly the combination of the music, the wine and the people, were all making me feel better than I had in a long time. I love people, and am usually very social, but this past year had changed me a bit. One reason I took his long motorcycle ride was to regain my feelings and relationship with me. To reaffirm my sense of self, and self confidence.
It had been a tough couple of years, and my self image and emotional well being had taken a beating. It was high time to recover and live life again. The Mariachi guys had switched to an even livelier song, with a very danceable beat. I looked over to Ms Reader, to see that she had put down her book, and was now fully engrossed in the music too. I am not sure what possessed me, but I guess I was operating on the feelings of the moment. I got up and walked over to her booth, and I asked her if she’d like to dance. I was floored that without one moment of hesitation, she said Yes. She took my offered hand, and we moved to the open space where the other couple was dancing.
It seemed that neither of us actually knew how to salsa dance, so we just laughed and relaxed into a rock-style dance we both seemed to know from instinct. We both laughed, and stared into each other’s eyes. Again, it was just a special and rare moment of bliss. No words were needed. Just the moment existed for us. Just that magical music, unplanned, and borne from men grateful for a good meal. Now, sharing their gift of music and grace with us.
The lively song faded into a much slower ballad. We awkwardly made the change from the rock steps to a slow dance. I took her in my arms, and she wrapped hers around my waist. We swayed to the sloe cadence of the impassioned song of what I thought was about love gained and lost. The singer was masterful at the impassioned vocalization of loss and regret. It resonated in my deepest parts of my being.
I hoped that she didn’t see the welling tear in my eye, yet one escaped, and fell down my cheek. I was moved beyond my capacity to feel her move a hand up to my face and catch that tear, and wipe it away. I was transported to another place and time, one completely unexplainable, and unbelievable. She looked at me like someone who’d known me for longer than I’d been alive. And, quite unexplainably, I felt it was true.
We danced like it was automatic, as if we’d rehearsed it a thousand times before. I leaned into her and asked her name. “Athena” she said softly.
“I’m Ken”, I said to her. We just smiled, and danced. Losing ourselves to the music, the mood, the feelings of that perfect day.