Dancing friends: Talya Salant
Over dinner with Mark the other day his new wife Elizabeth mentioned that she had danced with a woman that knew my name. Elizabeth is a professional dancer. The woman who she had danced with is Talya Salant. Normally I would just have noted the name as yet another person from Newton who I vaguely knew but I perked-up immediately to let Elizabeth know that I had a very serious crush on Talya in fifth grade.
Back then I had just moved to Newton from Watertown and I still had yet to master the basics of living in an affluent neighborhood. My nickname from Watertown was messy harry and I had an afro dirty wild child look with ripped jeans that hiked up to the zone where I could become a clear target for teasing about my floods. Talya had been one of the few kids who was willing to talk to me and she had been incredibly attractive to boot. So the basics of our relationship were that we had spoken for half an hour on a park bench before her soccer practice. The next few weeks I would periodically sneak into the trees in the raised aqueduct area above the Newton Center Playground area where the young girls soccer games were played and would watch in a stalking mode perched in the trees above. I recall that terrible, gut wrenching, fear of speaking to her. Rather than speak directly to her I would wait on the park bench. She rarely came if ever. Eventually a girl who was her friend named Christine who could tell I had a crush on her sat next to me on the bench. I then formed a worse crush on Christine although I wasn't sure whether to talk to her to get through to Talya, which was the basis of our relationship or to talk directly to her.
Eventually we had a fifth grade trip to the woods where we were at camp in the spring. I got a chance to go on a field trip with Christine to a cemetery where we took engravings on the tomb stones. We chatted in the bus ride over and I still like Steve Winwood because his music was playing the whole ride to the cemetery and back. I also find cemeteries somewhat romantic. At one assembly a teacher read from a Ray Bradbury story about a time machine and screwing-up the future by grabbing a butterfly (hence the Butterfly Effect). The whole story I was staring longingly at Christine. Nothing ever became of that either.
So today when thinking of what to tell Alex G. about finding a date and driving in the 85 degree summer-like spring weather and pondering my weird fear of introducing myself to people I thought of what I would do if I was him. I would learn how to dance - salsa, swing, or ballet. Maybe I'll do so myself.