I don't like vacations very much. Oh, I'm as glad as anyone when the Office of Personnel Management (the august body that determines government snow days) decides that a quarter inch of sugary snow should shut everything down. But actual inactivity (otherwise termed rest) I usually find quite repulsive. Which is why, I think, God let me break my toe.
Once a year, on a Saturday evening in early September, the Kennedy Center hosts a free evening of swing dancing on the River Terrace. To my great chagrin, and to my discredit as a professed aficionado, I had not been swing dancing since I moved. I leapt at this opportunity to hear the Tom Cunningham Orchestra. I plyed my friends for weeks with the absolute necessity of joining me. I compared the twirling virtues of this skirt and that.
Then, this past Saturday, I wrote a thank-you note and went barefoot to the mailbox. I have one incurable habit inculcated by twenty years of West Coast living - I think shoes a great evil. On my way, I stubbed my toe. It smarted something awful, but so do all stubbed toes. I walked it off, dropped my letter in the box, and returned to the apartment. I showered and dressed in a brown, flouncy skirt that seems to induce a sashay in my steps. The evening was fine, so I set out to walk to the Kennedy Center just across the river, a distance of some 3 or 4 miles. By the time I got there, my foot was rather sore where I had stubbed it, but I didn't think too much about it. The river, a great blackness spangled with lantern light, lay like a mirror perpetually in the act of being shattered. The mild air begged to atone for summer's retreating brutality. And the music floated to me across the Hall of Nations.
I entered the great Hall of Nations, and I passed the memorial Margaret Zellers water fountain, where in September 2004, the last year that I came, Meg passed out with unbearable abdominal pain after the closing Lindy Hop. I spent the remainder of that evening with an incoming freshman, whose name I do not remember now, at Meg's bedside at the George Washington Hopsital urgent care, where we had all gone as a merry party in an ambulance.
To be continued . . .
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