Now, here in the car, Stefanie and Katerina have slipped into a rhythm of their own, a familiar one that they must have shared for a long time. I retreat from engagement in the back. I’m dressed in my favorite green dress that makes me feel like I just came out of the tropics but I cover the slightly revealing top with a gray Gap zip-up sweater. Because I don’t feel safe showing myself off. This anxiety feels immature, unexplainable and I’m frankly tired of it. There are paranoias parading in the back of my mind and I pretend not to look at them. They’re the same paranoias that drove me to face my fears in Cancun (See Cancun Journal), the same paranoias I had in the middle of a breathtaking meadow in France. I’m not as high-strung as I used to be and I must admit some credit is due to myself for that but it bothers me that when we’re out to have a good time at a jazz night, I still suffer this malaise instead of being fun and flirty with the other girls. I swallow a ball of tears in my throat and tell myself to man-up! I leave the car and resolutely take off my sweater.
I watch the men in my peripheral vision. Are they going to catcall? Are they going to approach? What if someone comes up to us and tries something? It's a quiet street.
Here, I feel obligated to remind you that I grew up being taught for years that men were dangerous wolves and that we fragile and helpless women needed to be covered up to be safe from harassment or even rape. It’s time that I left these beliefs behind, way behind, but they are gifted with talons.
We arrive at the music school. Katerina explains that this place was turned around into a rustic outdoor bar. I get a peek at the place, down in a quaint little alcove, sheltered from the street. There are twinkles lights hanging and wherever there are twinkle lights (or cupcakes) you’ll see me gravitating there.
Katerina and Stefanie start giggling because Katerina claims that she can carry Stefanie down the staircase. And she does!
The evening relaxes, or maybe I do. The music jangles louder than my anxiety and slowly I begin to feel the softness in my edges again. I let my hair down, in the literal sense.
Just in time, a gentleman joins us. Simon of the long Golden hair. He comes with his bike and his leather jacket and his eccentricity dripping from his fingertips. Simon is Katerina’s friend. He is half Turkish, half British. A Turkish Englishman. An English Turk. And he speaks both languages quite fluently with an impeccable accent.
I turn to this gentleman, very drawn to the way his sunburned face tells me how much he knows. It’s a wee bit intimidating at first, given that Simon is in his forties. I feel a little foolish talking to him about my experiences. But I see through our age difference and find an old soul who has traveled so much across this world, and in other lifetime, he no longer carries an identity. I don’t think Simon believes in reincarnation. I’m not sure what I believe about it myself yet but this man certainly wears layers of experiences that extend far beyond this life. And still he remains boyish. It’s very sweet. We talk about religion, film, Sufism, India and the possibility of camping on the beach in Karpaz, in the Northern part of Cyprus. It’s been so long since I talked so freely and openly, so non-stop, with a stranger before. I feel like I’m myself again.
As my intellect runs off with Simon, the music speaks to my body and I respond to the hypnosis. Katerina and I get up to dance to the curvy Latin sounds. Letting it all go… but for one bead of resistance.
“You’re a good dancer,” Stefanie says to me when we sit down, flushed.
With a thoughtful tone, Katerina asks, “Where you fully present when you were dancing?”
No, answers a voice inside before I can stop it. I realize I was a little self-conscious as I was dancing. Showing off maybe. Aiming to please. Aiming to seduce. It makes me wonder how much of our lives as women are performed to “please” someone, a man, other women, an audience. Why did I feel the need to please? So it’s either fear or pretend with us? Is that how men relate to women too? They are either afraid of inadequacy, or of getting hurt. Or they pretend to be “manly” or "charming" or "unbreakable" because that is what is expected. Where is the truth?
I open up to Stefanie. I tell her how I’ve been feeling this evening. I tell her my fears. I tell her some of the past experiences that led to those fears. We end up with an impromptu energy reading. I learn from her that she teaches Cypriot women to open up to their feminine energy and their sexuality. She pulls at me like an inevitable stream that gives me no choice about where to flow. Have I fallen into the right hands?
Katerina flutters close and pulls me out of my chair. She wants to show me something special. In a cozy anteroom off the dance floor, there’s a small art exhibit. There are chairs and tables here but no one has found this nook yet.
She takes me on a mini tour and we observe each painting and photograph like morsels of raw fruit. The art is made by various unknown individuals and is, therefore, honest and unpretentious. I feel surrounded by how genuine and by-the-people this place is. As we revel in that, an Argentinian tango breaks out on the dance floor.
“Oh look!” Katerina gasps. We look into the dance floor through the archway in the anteroom. A beautiful woman and her beautiful partner have gotten up to dance. I’m not sure if I really think they’re beautiful or if it’s just the passion and the intensity of their bodies moving.
We cannot go back to our tables because we would be interrupting the dance. So we grab two chairs and sit close to the archway to watch. The dance seems, from where we are sitting, like something that was orchestrated exclusively for me and Katerina to watch, framed as it was by that archway. Though this spontaneous dance is improvised by random people who were having a good time at the bar tonight, it felt like a synchronicity that opened up for just the two of us to watch the two of them.