Dancing With A Praying Mantis

I don’t believe that any two people on this earth come together and say “I do” with the thought that one day they will get divorced. But it happens and life goes on. Looking back, I’m glad my parents didn’t stay together although at five I would’ve given anything for them to make it work. It took me years to realize that my Mom and Dad were two very different people. They did have one thing in common though, they both danced. Dad had a few country moves and Mom liked the disco.

It was shortly after moving into a new home that I noticed things were not going smoothly between my parents. I tried to focus on my doll that peed her diaper, my metal roller skates that I wore over my sneakers and my Disney movie projector. My toys helped to  keep my mind off of reality. It was late in the seventies and times were good. I was soaking up life at the young age of five. Diana Ross, Dolly Parton and Earth Wind and Fire were my radio friends. Car dancing was the best, either in my Mom’s blue Chevy Chevette or my Dad’s white Monte Carlo with the black roof. Life was always more fun riding in the front with one parent or the other.

Mom moved into an apartment and Dad went to stay with a relative. We lived with Mom but would go to visit Dad on Saturday mornings and return on Sunday evenings. I had a new bedroom at the apartment that overlooked another unit behind us. We lived on the third floor and I had a great view of people and action. Spring and summer in Massachusetts are kind to the body and soul. You can sleep with the windows open most of the time and that’s what we did.

I woke late one Friday night to a praying mantis sitting on my pillow by my head. I could clearly see him by the light that filtered into my room from the outdoor electrical pole. I was terrified. He was inches from my face and his hands clasped together. Thinking I was and on my death bed I quickly and quietly went to my Mom’s room to graphically explain that there was an emergency in my room. A large creature was praying for me but it had to go. She gently removed it and placed it outside. She covered me up and kissed me goodnight for the second time. I tossed and turned. I figured there had to be more where he came from. I could not sleep.

My Mom had the best record collection as far as I was concerned and she took all of the vinyl’s in the divorce. Dad kept his 8 tracks. I was no stranger to music. As I laid there in my bed, I heard to words to Carly Simon and Santana coming through my window. I stayed still for awhile and just listened but eventually made my way to go and take a look. There was a grand party across the way at the next unit. It was taking place in another third floor apartment which gave me the honor of a perfect view. I slide my window open as wide as it would go. I crossed my arms on the sill and got on my knees. I watched the men and women laugh and sing. A lady with feathered hair and a blue sequin dress was smoking a cigarette and holding a glass as she drank and talked to a man wearing a low cut shirt and bell bottom pants. People shuffled in and out of the slider door that lead to the balcony. I observed the fun and laughter but my favorite part was the dancing.

I watched them as long as I could. They had more energy then me because they were grown up’s. I was a little kid that needed sleep. My overnight bag was already packed to go to my Dad’s in the morning. I checked all around my pillow to make sure there were no more praying bugs. I climbed into my bed, laid down and thought, when I grow up, I’m going to dance.



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