Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dance Tickets

Worked late tonight but I don't feel tired. All day I couldn't wait to chill out here, on this little blog. I have so much to write that I'm afraid I can't get it all down while my thoughts are still fresh.

Had our second session today! One of the seniors' stories was so moving that her friend sitting next to her got all choked up, and then she got choked up too. The rest of us had tears coming but held them in.  Helen's story wasn't sad, not at all. It was just so very basic that it was beautiful. I am glad that the senior center gave me a taperecorder. Helen wrote half a page but it was her talking that moved us. She talked for a while. 20 minutes? 25 minutes? We were speechless. Oohs. Aahs. Laughter. Warm laughter. That was all the rest of us were capable of. I think this weekend I have to sit down with the taperecorder and transcribe her story here.

But until then. Maybe I should start back at the beginning of today's session. Or, actually before that, when I chatted with Ernestyne before class.

The sun was for some reason bright even though it had been windy the rest of the week. When I first stepped inside the senior center today, my eyes had to adjust. The entry vestibule opens to the lobby, which is filled with chairs and tables. Seniors like to cluster there, some talking, some content with just sitting at the same table with their friends. At first it was hard to pick out faces. I spotted a waving arm. It was Ernestyne. She was in one of those chairs I associate with middle school, the ones with the writing surface connected to the seat. She looked so tiny, like a plant peeking out of a pot. She had a newspaper opened in front of her, to the crossword page. It was not filled in yet. "Hi," she squealed. It sounded like squealing to me. She introduced me to her friend who was in a sporty blue outfit. "Class was very fun last week. I am sorry I can't go today. The van is coming soon to bring me to the hospital." I gasped and asked what was wrong. "Just for a treatment," she said. "Not a big deal."

Turned out that her knees were acting up, but it's just arthritis which she is used to. "My grandma gets that too," I said. "Hers swell up like grapefruit when the weather changes." Ernestyne told me that hers act up a little differently - they feel like they are loose inside. "My bones just separate," she explained. I probably looked a little worried, so she changed the subject. She asked if I am married and when I said yes, we traded huge smiles. Taking my hand in hers to look at my rings, she asked if I live nearby, asked where I am from, and finally out of nowhere, she asked, "Have you heard about the dance? Do you want to come? I am stationed here because I am selling tickets." I was blown away. There was something so earnest in her face. She was about to be at the hospital but she was sitting there selling tickets for a dance for the senior center. Dance tickets. She was way too adorable.