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"I saw them first!" - I wanted to shout it in the other smiling faces that saw young love personified in dance.
Those of us watching nodded when we spotted and then recognized our fellow voyeurs as having found the young couple with tremendous, captivating talent. When I turned back to the dance floor after a survey of the rest of the crowd I panicked. The young Adonis and Aphrodite were walking hand in hand away from the floor and out the tent towards a refreshment stand. They both threw their heads back and laughed as they trotted out from under the tent and into the sun. Walking together now, away from the dance floor, the couple could've been any ordinary young lovers and not the extraordinary athletes I knew them to be. The two had soaked through their clothing and sweat glistened in the sun off their faces, their necks. The boy carefully wiped a drop of sweat from his partner's brow in the most loving fashion causing her to look into his eyes, pause, and kiss him sweetly on the cheek. I melted.
Standing back under the tent I felt alone. I'd been jilted. I felt stood up. Immediately I had the sense of being back at my first junior high school dance where I searched the crowd for Kendra van Horn. She was the girl I wanted to dance with who had just left and I was alone, pressed tightly up against the cold surface of the gymnasium's tiled wall wondering if I would ever see her again. Something about seeing young lovers vigorously dancing together, their moves sharing secrets as they dance, made me hearken back to days when the whole mystery of approaching-not to mention dancing with-girls was unknown juju to me as a young boy.
I spent most of the rest of the evening drinking water and talking with friends. Patty Loveless played on the main meadow stage to a large, friendly crowd. My knowledge of her music was and still is shallow, but my appreciation of the instrument of her voice is deep. She belted out ballad after ballad with a powerful, crisp, and clear voice, accompanied by a tight and very diverse band of soulful musicians. A group of middle-aged women worked hula-hoops together with teenagers joining in and also along with a gaggle of adventurous five-year-olds learning how to subtly sway their hips. On the air faint smoke from grilled foods wafted over a few thousand happy listeners. The day was turning to night and the world felt like a comforter on a chill winter's night. I wrapped myself in the moment, snuggling in for all I was worth.
As the end of my evening drew near and I was walking towards the parking lot I saw the fantastic young dancers holding hands at an artist's booth. He stood with his shirt off as she leaned in against his chest. Their stance was innocent and natural and lovely and a hundred other descriptive words that would never measure up to the moment. I realized the inadequacy of even the greatest efforts of language as the feeling conjured by the two of them washed over me in warm waves both familiar and oddly distant. Unabashedly I stood at a nearby lemonade stand's tent and ordered one for the road, watching them intently. Standing there in the waning twilight at the edge of a festival tent in Chatham County, creeping up quickly on middle age, on a gorgeous eighty-degree spring evening I felt remarkably fresh and hopelessly in love with being in love.