Cindy-Part 2 (Image: Dancing Girls # 9)

I drop the photo on the attic floor and focus on it. It spreads and grows and the space it contains expands into three-dimensions becoming the space under me. I can feel the cool summer breeze off the lake rising to meet me. I take a deep breath, exhale and float down into it. For a moment I hover about six inches off the sand and gravel beach enjoying the breeze carrying the scents of honeysuckle and wood smoke.

It is an astonishing experience—finding myself back in that moment in time—hearing the rustle of willow leaves and feeling the breeze coming down from the surrounding, forested mountains and across the water.  Even the sky and clouds seem colored by the passion and endless potential of youth—and the spirit of that time in our history so long ago.

I watch Cindy gazing across the lake and realize she cannot see me. I also soon realize I can observe and alter some material circumstances through some force of will—like stopping the clock—but I have no other ability to effect events in this state. Cindy is sitting there on her tree waiting for me (back then) to join her but that will not happen—someone else is coming. But I’m getting ahead of myself

As is so often the case with boys—I was somewhat less mature than her despite being a year older. I fell in love with her 5 or 6 months before that camp weekend, watching her sing in the church choir. But though I’d talk to her in church and at school, I could never get up the guts to ask her to a dance or movie. I’d bust my butt to find out what sort of events she would be attending so I could be there too. She knew I was in love with her but was an old-fashioned girl who firmly believed the guy asks the girl out—never the other way around.

On more than one occasion at a church pot-luck supper or ice cream social I’d talk to her and drop little hints about how I felt. I was always hoping she’d give me some sort of encouragement—and did a little—but never as much as I—in my consuming insecurity would have liked.

“Hi Cindy,” I’d say. “You look nice—new dress?”

She’d smile impatiently at me,

“Thank you,” she’d respond, “but no—I’ve had it for almost a year—you’ve seen it before.”

I’d stand there trying to think of something else to say. She’d stand there waiting for me to think of something.

“Sure,” I’d come back, “well, uh, I didn’t know you’d be here—did you come with anybody?

“Well, Don Loman asked me,” she’d reply, “but I told him no—I wanted to keep my options open—you never know who you’ll meet at these things,” and she would look hard and impatiently at me.

I knew Don had a thing for Cindy—he had since the three of us were in elementary school together. Cindy saw him as a nice guy but just wasn’t interested in him as a boyfriend. Don and I had hung out together off and on over the years—we were friends I suppose—more or less. Cindy knew it would tick me off to bring him into the conversation. I was taller than Don—and better looking—I had been told. A couple of girls had said I was pretty good-looking but was, “such a dork.”

“And as far as not knowing I was coming—you knew I’d be here,” she accused. “You were standing 10 inches away when I told Susan Bowie I was coming. I’d have thought you’d remember that—I saw you looking at her legs in that skimpy skirt she was wearing.” I blushed and thought seriously about leaving but smiled and tried to be cool.

She was right. I and all the other teen-age guys at that church were always trying to sit where we could get a good view of Susan’s beautiful legs. Susan pretty much had her pick of guys at church and at school—she was very pretty—and what we used to call in those days—a “fast girl.” Starting maybe a little more than a year ago—it became a favorite topic of locker room conversation—any guy she liked could score on the first date and she went through boy friends like Kleenex.

And there was another thing. Susan would often talk to and hang out with Cindy and seemed to be her friend but talked about Cindy behind her back—make fun of her calling her “Snow-White,” Miss Goody-two-shoes,” and “The Virgin Princess.” They were good friends in elementary and middle school then about a year ago something changed. It was weird—at times Susan really seemed to like Cindy but at other times when she wasn’t around—would trash her. I don’t think Cindy knew—or if she did she never let on she did.

Coincidentally Susan lived right across the street from the garage where I worked part time. One of her brothers worked there too and sometimes she’d come over with a snack or drink for him. A couple of times I thought I saw her watching me as I worked but didn’t think much of it. She hung out with a much more popular crowd and I knew she thought I was a dork.

At these social gatherings, Cindy and I would talk about what was going on in her life—like how excited she was to be getting her driver’s license and how her parents had agreed to match whatever money she saved toward the purchase of a car. Every time I met her she’d tell me what the total was—she saved for months. She made money baby-sitting and mowing lawns. She was the only girl I ever knew who earned money mowing grass.

The minute I heard about the trip to the camp I checked the sign-up sheet—then wrote my name under hers. The same day I signed up I learned Cindy had purchased her new used car and was driving all over central New York. I told her to bring it by Eddie’s Garage where I worked part-time and I’d tune it up.

There was going to be a dance Saturday night of the trip so during the two weeks before, I learned how to dance. My mom had a friend with a daughter my age who was a good dancer. I somehow got up the guts to ask my mom to ask her friend if the girl could teach me. It was an incredibly awkward two hours the next Friday afternoon but at the end of it I could steer a girl around a room in a sort of half-ass shuffling box step and could fake a few fast-dance movements.

At the end of it I really was pleased with myself—almost intoxicated—that I had taken a step toward a real relationship with Cindy. I actually felt more confident.

As the camp weekend approached I had my game plan and priorities all figured out. Before the weekend was over I decided I would do three things: 1. dance with Cindy, 2. tell Cindy how I felt about her and 3. kiss her. Anything more than just kissing was frosting on the cake.

End part two

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