The Dance

I’ve mentioned this in previous posts but throughout high school it seemed as though Libby and I were always making plans for a dance. The problem was during our era it was not considered a “real dance” unless there was a live band, so in preparation for each dance we spent many afternoons traveling from garage to garage listening to different groups.  The search process involved enduring a lot of really bad music in our attempt to find the perfect band who had to be able to perform certain “classic” songs such as Free BirdHotel California and of course, the southern national anthem, Sweet Home Alabama.

Although a lot of time was spent selecting the bands and decorating the gym, in reality there never was a lot of dancing during any of our high school events, which was okay by me since I never really danced anyway.  Libby, on the other hand always enjoyed dancing, a fact that frankly shocked me since my church had always taken a such strong stand against dancing and yet here was Libby a preacher’s daughter, dancing every chance she got.

Most of the time during our high school dances Libby and I were busy working the gate or asking the band to turn it down because of complaints from the chaperons, or we were asking the band to turn it up because of complaints from the students.   If we weren’t adjusting the music volume or taking up tickets at the door we were trying to fix the mirrored disco ball that had quit turning, so even if  I was willing to “lower my standards” enough to dance, we rarely had opportunity.

Back in Macon, Libby and I had found an excuse to spend every evening together during that first week of our three-week dating marathon and to close out that first week of dates, Libby’s Chi Omega sorority was sponsoring a Saturday night dance at the local country club.  I had already planned to drive to Macon to meet Libby and go with her to the Chi O mixer but now that my job assignment had me stationed in Macon for three weeks, it made the entire weekend a lot less stressful especially since this was going to be the first dance in which neither one of us would be working.

Chi O 1

On the Saturday of the dance Libby and I spent the first half of the day together walking around the campus and generally enjoying the day with no agenda.  That afternoon I picked Libby up in front of her dorm with plenty of time for us to go out to dinner where we had a relaxing meal at a quite restaurant, then we made the short drive to the country club.

Libby, always the social butterfly, wanted to introduce me to all of her friends (and yes, she seemed to know everyone there).  After introductions and during one of the band’s breaks Libby had a part in her sorority sister’s program as they made a presentation to the senior girls who would be graduating, after which, those seniors recognized their favorite incoming pledge (you probably already guessed this one, yes, it was Libby).

Chi O3

With Libby’s social responsibilities complete we finally had some time to ourselves, but the warm humid evening combined with the large group of hot sweaty couples dancing in every corner of the room, had overwhelmed the ballroom’s air conditioning system making the room very uncomfortable.  I had convinced Libby to step outside and so we walked toward the back of the ballroom through some large doors which lead outside onto a patio, away from the band, the sorority sisters and the heavy air.

While we were inside I felt completely out of my element, but outside everything seemed perfect as we settled into some large wooden Adirondack chairs and relaxed on the edge of the 18th green.  We were separated from the main event by multiple sets of French doors which had been propped open during the evening to allow the cool night air into the ballroom.

It looked like a scene from a movie as we sat looking back toward the ballroom with the tall glass doors each flanked by sheer white curtains billowing out of the openings as the breeze blew them out toward our haven on the stone patio.  The evening took on an even more surreal atmosphere as the bright lights from inside the room cast silhouettes of the dancing couples on the sheer curtains.  It seemed as if we were completely alone beneath the stars, yet surrounded by several hundred people.

Outside on the patio the damp night air felt nice compared to stuffy ballroom and the music was now muffled enough that we could still talk without yelling as we began to dance.  Oh yes, I need to explain here that the temptation to dance with Libby had eroded my resolve to the point that I finally gave in.  My dancing was horrible but Libby never said a word about it and I was just enjoying my time with her.

Despite my inept dancing and repressed guilt, the evening became another milestone in our young relationship because, for the rest of the night, no one interrupted our dance, nor discovered our secret dance floor.  Our week of dates had come to an end as Libby and I danced together outside that ballroom, and although memorable, I had forgotten about that evening until just recently when I was scanning stations on the radio and I heard an old Garth Brooks song entitled “The Dance” and the words to that song brought back all of those memories from 36 years ago:

“The Dance”

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbyeAnd now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the danceHolding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I a king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it allAnd now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the danceYes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance

Now, a disclaimer here, I have never believed that our lives are left to chance, and I know that Libby didn’t believe that.  But with that said,  I can understand how much easier it would be for a songwriter to find lyrics which rhyme with “chance” instead of “the sovereignty of God”.

So with that exception in mind, click on this link if you would like to hear Garth’s version of  The Dance.

3 thoughts on “The Dance

  1. Sonya (Long) Thomas

    Thank you, Barry for sharing your story of your life with Libby.
    I know this will help you heal from the pain of grief.
    It will also help those of us who lost track of our friends over the years to get to know you both again, through your memories.
    And, it will help us to remember to enjoy to the fullest, the day’s God gives us.
    After our daughter passed away at the age of 23, waiting for a heart transplant (11 years ago), my friends said that I should write a book about our life with her.
    Your writings have encouraged me to start recording my memories too.

    Like

  2. Kathy Haney

    I thoroughly enjoyed this! You are keeping Libby alive in my heart and memory by sharing these wonderful stories. Thank you so much! I love you.

    Like

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