[StoryADay May prompt: “Go Big (And) Go Home“]
Troy dances. He dances through the day. He dances at practice, he dances at parties, he dances before dawn and he dances before bed. The beginning and the end and in between and the reason why he does so is because when he was young it never occurred to him to take up dancing. He would rather blame his father. How out of ignorance his father never let him dance.
The truth Troy knows, though, is dance was an art he had no appreciation for, and all he knew was it was something some girls did.
He’s less ignorant now.
Clayton was a dancer. From early. By the age of three. From a family heritage of minstrel shows, vaudeville, Broadway, movie musicals featuring African-American casts and performers during the 1930s and 1940s. By way of an aunt and uncle. In every sense and of many styles but primarily of ballet when at twenty-two he joined a fledging company in Washington, D.C. founded in 1979 by an immigrant Russian couple who found him particularly breathtaking.
When he retired, he sought the warmth of the southwest, and there he planned to enjoy his obscurity and the sense of a life well performed.
Troy recognized Clayton from the only movie in which he ever appeared.
“Spring Lightning! You danced with Dina Rosetta!”
Not at first, though. They greeted each other most every morning for several months leaving the apartment complex at the same time, heading to different gyms, Troy to lift weights and ride an exercise bike to attack his early fifties as they were attacking him, and Clayton to swim and stretch and enjoy yoga classes. His fifties had been kind to him, and his sixties had be a little less so, and what he hoped to achieve was a graceful exit.
My one shot at cinematic fame. A truly wonderful experience. Dina, so lovely to work with. Bless the musical revival of the early 80s. Bless the director. Cal Yancy made the movie happen, made sure it got finished when the studio got nervous that musicals were dead again. Maybe for good. Cal and Dina and their vision.
I stumbled into the role. She remembered seeing me dance a couple years before. Tracked me down. Came out to Washington, D.C. personally to find me, ask for me, offer me the role.
I miss her. I miss Cal. Both gone so quickly.
Clayton and Troy started inviting each other over for dinner and conversation. For Troy, Clayton’s experiences in dance, a history of opportunity and obstacles, of being young, black, and gay in the 1980s. His discipline. He triumphs. The injuries. The funny and not so funny behind-the-scenes dramas between artists.
For Clayton, Troy’s ignorance of dance, and his fascination. The way Troy stumbled across Spring Lightning and became a fast fan. How he hoped Clayton was the dancer he admired in the film, but was too embarrassed to ask until his question came out in a meet-cute moment of excited awkwardness.
They fell into each over a few weeks of fast friendship, and as fast lovers they enjoyed the comfortable sense of inevitability. The age difference didn’t matter to them even though they thought it should, at first, before Troy kissed Clayton. Their kiss was enough to put such thoughts to rest.
“We’re both old men,” Troy said.
“But we’re not.”
The sixteen years mattered only in the contextualizing of their experiences. There were more parallels between growing up gay in the 60s and 70s versus the 70s and 80s than not. Sixteen years of similarities and fascinating differences.
It would have kept working.
What changed, and they didn’t know this until much, much later, was what changed for everyone: aging as treatable medical condition. It was a wonderful thing to stop aging at 69, at 53. The treatments had been a decade in the making, in the testing, from human trials to expensive opportunities for wealthy early adopters, to affordable options for everyone, covered by insurance. At every age the damage acquired dealt with in loops of repair that maintained. Not escape velocity, but a stable orbit obtained.
Only a year later, the first human trials for rejuvenation.
When you are approximately 25 again, you realize how much pain and suffering you had learned to ignore after decades of slow time and inevitable decline: your increasing frailty and reduced range of motions, longer recoveries, new shortcuts, the platitudes you sell yourself, such as the one about stopping to smell the roses when really it’s your degrading knees, heel, back, bowels, guts that prescribe your comfort with activity.
You had time to adapt.
You are horrified how well you adapted.
Your body reverts not to your past 25-year-old self, but to a different, better, optimized, actualized you at 25.
When you are approximately 25 again, you don’t lose all that wisdom you gained. You don’t forget all your experiences. You remember them better than you have ever remembered them.
Rejuvenation has reached into your tiny depths, down to the tiny machines that work not like repaired machines but new machines, factory new and factory settings, and a few tweaks besides to keep them in that state indefinitely.
Tiny machines and their composite results: your memory, your thinking, your mind, your behaviors, your actions, your future. This is the New Biology of peak performance, without losing what’s there to remember.
When you are approximately 25 again, you can still die. The runaway bus doesn’t care how rejuvenated you have become. Squash. You’re dead. In rejuvenation and the Great Pause in early adulthood, it’s the violence and accidents that will try to kill you instead.
As the ways of dying from aging are eliminated, as recharged and enhanced immune systems eliminate infectious threats, what’s left are violent acts and accidents. It’s pretty easy to avoid accidents. Given a much longer life span, though, you have more time in which to find that accident that will kill you.
Tackle those threats next.
When Clayton and Troy were approximately 25 again, it wasn’t violence or an accident that killed their relationship.
It was dance.
Dance was why Troy was so interested in Clayton. And now he had the opportunity to pursue this art he had never considered before. Opportunities for the rejuvenated masses to pursue old and new interests arrived rapidly. How to spend your time was the primary question of the day. Dance was how he was going to spend his time.
Troy learned how to dance. Troy practiced. Troy immersed himself in instruction and history, in various styles, in all aspects.
Clayton didn’t want to dance. He didn’t want to teach Troy how to dance. He didn’t want to participate in Troy learning how to dance.
“I’ve done it. I have new interests. I am happy for you and support you learning how to dance.”
It hurt Troy like a rejection. From the moment he learned about rejuventation technology, he imagined him and Clayton embarking together in the artform. How could Clayton not want to return to his life’s work?
He waited. He thought Clayton would change his mind. He tried to be supportive of Clayton’s new interests. But it festered.
“It’s my life, Troy!”
“Yes, it was, and you are throwing all that experience away. You need to see a counsellor. Figure out what it holding you back.”
“Nothing. Nothing is holding either of us back.”
“Then why aren’t you happy for me?”
“Why won’t you help me?”
“You have instructors! I’m not interested. For the last time it’s okay that you are dancing. And it’s okay I’m not. Let it go, dammit!”
Troy didn’t. When they parted for the last time, he tried again.
“You love dance.”
New passions. His second life.
Without each other.
StoryADay May 2016 Day 31