It snowed in the mountains on March 20th, the day I left Corsica. A challenging hitchhiking trip north awaited me, but it went well; I camped in my tent before reaching Italy´s Alps, then made it through Austria the next day to the Czech Republic, where there were places I could sleep. The next day, I was back in small-town Rymarov, a European home for me, and very content, and ready to stay and work for a while.
The first day back, I met Pavla. She was an "opatrná" (deliberate) twenty-two-year-old. She was small but strong, tan-skinned, with hidden brown eyeballs that moved deliberately, and a voice that spoke Czech - an intellectually futuristic, militarily-official-sounding language - deliberately, but cutely. In a dark-green bar at a glossy wooden table with her friends, she and I sat close.
The next night, we danced with her friends and occasionally some of mine in "Vecko", Rymarov´s one nightclub. Small, bronze bangs slinkied down Pavla´s forehead. She wore a thin, black turtle-neck with the sleeves rolled up and jeans, a classy look. Very good music filled the dark room, mostly hard Czech rock. Pavla´s fists jogged in front of her, and she stepped, coolly.
Deliberately, she almost didn´t speak. In fact, she didn´t ever even really look at me. But, I knew she wanted to dance with me, because, being a confident man, I (wearing an untucked white dress-shirt and tie, because there´d been a ball this night) had asserted myself ... and waited for Pavla´s friend to push us together.
So, occasionally, but not too often because we were having fun as a group, I jumped in front of Pavla and we danced. The grungy Czech rock wasn´t exactly romantic, though. It´s possible to dance well as a pair to hard music, but it requires a little more space and freedom, as well as good rhythm with one another and the instruments´ beats. We danced together four separate times. It was nice, but not fully comfortable - though I wanted to make it so. Something more was needed to make our dancing good.
The fifth time we came together was the turning-point. We forgot other people were around us. I held Pavla more, danced less. I touched her back, tight neck muscles, smooth forearms, and sides. Her finger-tips grazed my ribs and relaxed on my jeans´ fringes. The song seemed to last a long time. We spun to a far-off place. Affection and excitement rushed through us, and we returned to dancing with the group, but our thoughts were with that star-powerful dance.
We finally came together again when a U2 song about love played. Vecko always plays a string of soft rock songs around four-thirty in the morning.
During the night, around us, (this being a dark club in a wild, heavy-drinking Czech small town) other pairs touched a lot more than forearms and jeans´ fringes. Many touched everything.
Pavla and I slowly danced. There were lines we didn´t cross; our hands were well-behaved, and we didn´t kiss, but we could play infinitely within these lines, and that made things more thrilling.
We barely moved, enjoying the warmth, not wanting to part. Five songs after the U2 song, when we were practically alone on the dance floor, Pavla said, "Moje ocka zacinaji zavrit." (My eyes are starting to close.)
Most of the pairs had gotten bored of dancing together after two songs, I´d noticed. Maybe the something more that was necessary was to not want something more.
"Dekuji za noc." (Thanks for the night.)
"Já také," Pavla said with a smile. (Me too.)
- Modern Oddyseus