I wrote this immediately after my trip, when the joy coursing in my veins was strong. It has taken several days to fade, as fade it must. I’m learning that the down-side to travelling is that we cannot (must not!) hold onto the people and transient moments that bring us joy. To prevent total memory loss, I’ve put those initial feelings into words. Like a photograph, I want to reread this and remember a slice of my life when my happiness was palpable and contagious.
He caught my eye at the first party of the festival, with his unusual mix of self-assurance, dancing technique and understated style – he dances to create a shared experience between him and his partner, rather than to perform. In the dance world, talent, technique & self-assurance are always accompanied by a healthy measure of ego & pride. It’s a world of big personalities. Not so with FroMan. My instinct told me I’d find peace & pleasure in his company, and not my usual anxiety amongst strangers. Just like that, mere hours after the start of the festival, I’d pegged FroMan as a safe friend. A safe, lowkey sexy-AF friend.
Any down-time between workshops and parties, I’d reach out to him. The answer was always that I should join him & whoever he was with. Hanging out with him in a group was an interesting experience. With most ppl, like Energizer and Sunshiney for example, spending time with them leads to surprises that change my understanding of their character. With FroMan, it was the opposite. Just like peeling away the layers of an onion does not change one’s assessment of the onion, every discovery or new info served to deepen and confirm my opinion of him: a safe, self-assured, reserved humble man with the most beautiful manners – always looking to enhance and promote the success of any gathering for all participants, consistent with his dancing style. Those beautiful manners gave my paranoid brain ammunition: maybe he was just being his kind, polite self, and letting me tag along bc I didn’t know anyone at the festival? Afterall, he’d not overtly flirted with me, or made any sort of move. His eyes just crinkled into a smile every time he saw me, and when something unexpected happened, I could be sure of him catching my eye to share a silent, complicit look.
At the afterparty of day 4 of the festival, Energizer was outrageously flirting with me. He’d been flirting with me from the moment I’d had my dancefloor meltdown on day 2, all festival long basically. By Day 4, he’d tacitly accepted his spot in my friendzone, which made me relax, and engage in the harmless, fun, over-the-top flirting with him. Energizer noticed FroMan studiously not staring at us, and broke off mid crude/hilarious compliment to go shake FroMan’s hand and tell him, “Bro, don’t worry. I like you. You are my friend. Good luck.” To my puzzled look, he explained, “FroMan wants you, and I am his friend, so I can’t have you, and I don’t want him to think I’ll try have you. Besides… I’m pretty sure you want him as much as he wants you.” (Who knew there was such a thing as an honorable playboy?!) That moment of confirmation that no, I wasn’t crazy, there was something between us, FroMan’s impeccable manners be damned, made me so happy it hurt.
The next day, a bunch of us from the festival went to the Burj Khalifa. It was a glorious day amongst friends. That tower is incredible – hypnotic in its grace and stature. We watched the famous fountain shows as the sun set. Those shows are so beautiful they strip your mind of any thoughts – rushes of pure emotion and amazement. During our second viewing, I stood next to FroMan, rapt in my bubble of glorious joy. He slung his arm around me as he watched in silence. I was so happy it hurt.
That night, at the last dance party, it came time for our goodbyes. Small talk, best wishes, smiles, intentions of staying in touch, and keeping tabs of any dance festivals we’d attend on each other’s continents. He slung his arm around me and held me close in silence. I left. It hurt.
Maybe I’m all wrong, and it was a one-sided crush: a good, deep friendship. Who cares? Wtv it was, it felt like 2 pieces of a puzzle fitting snugly together. We shared a unique, beautiful thing. It makes me sad that this story was only meant to last 4 days – but what a lovely, self-contained story! He lives on the other side of the world. Maybe he is a male version of BlondEyes – someone I run into every few years, with whom I share a few hours/days of wonderful connection before we go our separate ways. The delight I feel at having met him outweighs the regret of not having him around anymore.
I never knew. I never knew it could be so easy and simple, so wondrous, to like someone and be liked in return. What a gift he has given me.
Recap of this trip so far: