It’s officially the time of year when I start daydreaming about living in New Mexico or somewhere, anywhere, where a person can leave the house without wearing ice-cleats and a headlamp. Between the moose bedded down twenty feet from where we walk, a two inch layer of solid ice and the darkness, the most difficult part of each day can be getting up or down our driveway. My response is that I never want to leave the house. I would be perfectly happy to stay here.
I realize that staying home all the time is unrealistic. Money must be earned. Children must be driven around. Groceries must be purchased. But I do find myself minimizing my outings during the darkest part of winter, and oftentimes I regret the commitments I’ve made that require me to leave the house. That’s how I was feeling yesterday. I just wanted to stay home with my computer and my books.
I’m sure I would have enjoyed another evening at home, but last night I was reminded of why it is that I love this town, and why I stay here even when the winters start to make me a little batty.
The son of a friend of mine plays basketball on the Homer High School team and because of district funding issues the kids have to pay their own travel expenses for their games. My friend decided to hold a contra dance after the game against Seward yesterday, with all of the proceeds going toward the team. She and her husband asked me to play fiddle with their band for the dance.
The coach required that all the boys attend the event, and invite their friends and families, and of course girls, so they would have someone to dance with. He told them they didn’t have to dance, but if they chose not to he would make them run 500 suicides at practice next week. The parents of the team brought chili and cornbread and a table full of desserts, possibly to make the idea of a contra dance more appealing to the boys. I fully expected the high school commons to be full of eye-rolling, arms-crossed teens, waiting impatiently until they could safely get out of there and onto whatever else they’d rather be doing. But I was wrong.
At 8:00 we played our first tune, to get the kids attention mostly. Then the first dance was called. About twenty tentative couples made their way to the dance floor. Before the caller finished teaching the dance the number of couples doubled. It continued that way all evening. Each dance seemed to have more participants than the one before. And people kept showing up all the time; parents, friends, basketball supporters, the regular contra dance crowd. The coach mandated the boys’ participation but he never said they had to stay until the end. They were still going strong when we had to wrap things up at eleven.
There was much to enjoy about the evening; the food, the conversation, the mixed-age group socializing together. I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I’m sure I would have enjoyed staying home, getting lost in another good book, but instead I got to watch a room full of laughing people dance to the music of my own making. I don’t think I’ll ever find a book that makes me feel as good as that.