Sunday, May 14, 2006

don't be sad, silly--you're in bwaston!

So last night Einar took me contra dancing. This is a highly energetic form of dance that is sort of a mix between bluegrass/swing and Scottish square dancing, and takes place in a big hall, called a grange. (Or at least, this one was.) It's also a form of line dancing, so you get a partner (the men ask the women) and line up with all the others, then the caller runs through some of the various steps that will take place. Then the music starts (imagine bluegrass after too much coffee) and so does the spinning, twirling, do-se-do-ing, and whatever else. The way it works is that as you do the steps, you and your partner slowly move down the line as all the other couples move either up or down, until you reach the end, where you rest, then get back in, and move back up the line, until the music stops, usually a good 15 minutes later. I had never gone before, so this was all new to me, but Einar goes every weekend (sometimes twice a weekend) and he quickly twirled off to the more experienced dancers after giving me the first dance.

All in all, it was grand. I wore my brown twirly skirt, my sports top under my black tee, and my hair in a ponytail (extra swing factor there). I also wore my nice strappy sandals, which slid nicely on the maple-wood floor. I was asked to dance every one, but at times had to decline so I could drink water and sit watching. I'd say half the fun is actually seeing the other, better dancers give little kicks and twists and really get into it, something you can't really appreciate while trying to keep up yourself. (And the keeping-up was certainly a challenge--many times I'd be thinking I had it under control and suddenly I was completely out of line, standing stunned in the middle of a set, while some more experienced dancer was pulling me in the direction I was supposed to be going. But that sort of problem was quickly remedied by smiling broadly and jumping back into the fray.)

The night ended at midnight, after a last waltz (how can you not love an activity that is at once exercising and romantic?), and we and a bunch of Einar's friends went out to a place called the People's Pint for home-made ginger beer. Oh, yeah, and before the dance, we all ate at a place called Armadillo's Burritos, which serves delicious, cheap Mexican food and has bluegrass bands in for the entertainment. I tell you--drinking Corona, munching down on a huge quesadilla with a side of the chunkiest, best guacamole you've ever had, while listening to the Purdy Mouth Boys sing a tune, while all around you little boys, older women, and people of all shapes and sizes bob their heads to the music and talk amongst each other, is a perfect moment.

I left New Hampshire today, and I'm doing alright. I mean, I was having a fantastic time hanging out there, despite the Biblical rains, so I was understandably a little down on the train ride into Boston. But now I am here in Belmont ("the town of homes", it is the bedroom community to Cambridge and its intellectual industries) with my Dad's cousin Nancy and her family, who live in a beautiful old home made of brick and ivy. Everything's in bloom: dogwoods, azaleas, and many other bushes the names of which I don't know. After I napped, they took me for a tour of Boston: I stood in Harvard Yard in the pouring rain, and gawked at different sites around the city. It's a really picturesque place, and it actually reminds me of Melbourne, Australia, with all the old Victorian architecture amidst modern facades. After dinner, I was delighted to accompany Nancy to her choir's rehearsal, where I joined in the singing of Hungarian folk songs. (The choir is preparing for an upcoming trip to Transylvania to visit their sister church. The word for God in Hungarian is "Isten", pronounced "Ishten.")

So, all in all it's going well. They have a really nice home, all decorated in shades and patterns of blue and white, Nancy's favorite colors. There are three cats with names that all start with T. They also have a house-wide wireless network, so that's why I'm sitting at the dining table with the iBook and a cup of Sleepytime tea, updating you all on what I've been up to.

My latest discoveries: dancing all evening and drinking ginger beer can be considered a drug, for how happy it makes you feel. Making new friends (and being around old ones) is what makes life good, but it also means you miss them when you go. Continual rain is actually nice when you're sleeping in a small trailer with a tin roof. Getting enough sleep is certainly a wonderful thing, but a little over-rated. However, naps are the spice of life.

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