Write On!

True Love’s Waltz

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm

by Tara Wiley

Skipping, tripping, like two gazelles bounding across the African savannah: Faye loved the foxtrot most of all. Buoyant. Free. Almost a bit dangerous in its speed, skirting loss of control with the wildness of an Italian Miglia race car driver with each turn; yes, the foxtrot made her feel utterly alive.

Charles, dear Charles, always the steady one, much preferred the waltz.

Glide-and-turn, dance with me, waves of the ocean, we move – ah yes! Bliss, my love!” he would croon with the music. And dancing with him, Faye fell in love with the waltz, too, simply because he loved it, and she loved him. She would never forget that moment.

One step here, a turn there – and then, the twinkle, where the choreography of their lives intersected on a dance floor in Toledo, of all the unromantic places in the world. She had just begun her career in competitive ballroom dancing; he was a seasoned veteran of three whole years. On that fateful day in 1952, it was in the middle of a twinkle during the foxtrot: Faye’s partner, Roger, tripped somehow, fell, and horrors! Broke his ankle! How, in the middle of such a simple moment, could this have happened? Why, fate, of course.

Charles found her afterwards, sobbing in the holly bushes behind the dance hall. She was devastated, and with her usual flair for the dramatic, she had given over to the full weight of her angst with a royal fit. Charles did the thing he knew best: he danced with her. She was, at first, quite the unwilling partner, until his steady waltz steadied her, and she found herself utterly transported in his arms.

Those early years were a delicious blur of travel and silk, accolades and trophies, late night soirees under the light of the moon with their friends and competitors. Faye threw away the expectations for a woman of her era and flung herself, instead, into the life of a performer. Childbearing years flew by in a flurry of pivots and pencil turns. No matter, Faye consoled herself: she had Charles. What else did she need? Sure, in the quiet early morning hours when the rigors of the life left her aching and bruised, a momentary pang would catch her breath. She would brush it aside and curl up a little closer against her true love.

Change came, slowly but surely. The competitions changed. Their bodies changed. The trophies slowly gave way to participants’ souvenirs. Their friends began to drop out: pregnancy, injury, or fury over loss. Charles and Faye watched and wondered when their time would come. One night, Charles found Faye sobbing behind the ballroom again. He took her in his arms, tried to begin a waltz like that time: it always made the world right again, the waltz. But this time, she refused to take his hand and crumpled instead into his embrace.

“Oh, Charles, tell me we won’t be like the Williams-” the couple they had grown closest to, who had recently left the circuit bitter and torn. Their relationship did not survive. “-or the Rogers-” the couple who ‘accidentally’ got pregnant, and forced a suburban lifestyle upon themselves with resentment and coldness. They slept in separate bedrooms. Their daughter was destined to grow up scorned, foremost by her parents. “Tell me we’ll choose happiness. Tell me –” the sobs took over again.

“Faye, what do you want? Whatever you want, I want it, darling, whatever you want. Do you want to quit? What should we do? Whatever we do, it will be together, I promise, my love,” Charles soothed, torn by her broken heart.

No solution appeared that night, but a month later, they found themselves back in Toledo for another competition. They drove by the dance hall where they first met: it was vacant now, with a faded ‘For Sale’ sign out front. Their eyes locked, and the next season of life began. Dancers became instructors, not begrudgingly, but willingly. Their students became their adopted children, filling their little suburban home with joy and laughter and yes! Music! They judged competitions from time to time, but their true joy came in coaching their bright rising stars. They marveled that the glory of this season seemed to surpass the euphoria of the previous one. They slept snuggled close together in the middle of their bed.

Sixty years together, and various adopted students planned a huge dance party for their beloved coaches. Charles and Faye choreographed a waltz just for the event. An hour before leaving, they worked their way through the steps in their backyard, singing the words to one another. Their most cherished student, now one of their instructors at the school they started so many years before, watched them with tears streaming down her cheeks.

“How have you done it?” she interrupted. “How, over all these years, have you kept such joy? Such love?” The two kept dancing, smiling, and sang all the louder,

While I give to you and you give to me
True love, true love
So on and on it will always be
True love, true love”

(“True Love” a waltz by Cole Porter)

  1. I loved it! Sweet like Hershey’s milk chocolate, not syrup 😉

  2. oh, my, the ocean is drawing out the romance in the young writer who used to come stomping up the stairs with, of all things, writer’s block! I agree with Jen.

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