It’s 1986 and it’s a thirteenth birthday party. The space my junior high classmate’s mother rented for her big celebration has plenty of room for dancing. The cake, the balloons, the table decorations and the most popular boys in our class are strategically placed throughout the venue. On this particular night, I’ve abandoned my ponytail and I’ve taken the risk of sweating my hair back by wearing it down. I had planned my outfit days before in anticipation of my friend’s party. I’m on the sideline of the dance floor like a lot of other girls as the music plays. Then that unforgettable opening guitar rift and Prince’s voice comes through the speakers:
“Ohhh! You don’t have to be beautiful to turn me on.”
That’s my song! I start to move to the music. The purple-laced crooner makes us all sway and swoon in our awkward early teenage years. I see some of the other girls make it onto the floor after a boy asks them to dance. I’m still swaying and waiting for my turn. Surely, they notice my dance moves. By the time the second chorus comes around, I have a choice to make: stand there on the sideline or simply get on the dance floor as a party of one. I mask my disappointment with my smile and the beat of the music. I just keep dancing. Eventually, a few other girls without partners join me. It’s as if I started a movement.
Looking back, most might think the life lesson at that moment was something catchy like celebrating oneself or keep dancing as if no one is watching; but my grown woman lens sees it differently almost 30 years later. Maybe it’s because, thankfully by now, I know what it feels like to dance– literally and figuratively— with someone, especially someone you love. Whether it was prom night or a wedding reception, there’s the undeniable and uplifting feeling that comes with friendship steeped in love. Oh, I hope that’s you this Valentine’s Day! May there be flowers to greet you at the office and jewelry in velveteen boxes at the end of a long work day. Most importantly, may there be love as God intended it.
Whether casually dating or in a committed relationship, may your dance partner, special friend or boyfriend take notice of you, the real you. The girl whose hair sweated back at the end of the dance or the girl who puts on a brave face in the midst of life’s challenges. May your partner pull back the curtain of your courage and take notice of your needs and of course, you of theirs. Roses, cards and chocolate are rewarding tokens of affection to post on social media. So is being genuinely valued by your beloved.
This season, where everyone focuses on romantic love, makes me think of Ruth working hard in the grain field, unaware that Boaz has taken notice and inquired about her. She has proven to herself that she can dance alone. And yet Boaz is not taken aback by her strength and her perseverance. Where some might see a threat, he sees an opportunity. He secretly gifts her by orchestrating her safety and ease on the job that enchanted day. He’s taken notice of her. Now that’s a dance partner. This Valentine’s Day I hope you dance.