It's Friday night. I am going to Luis' milonga. This is my favorite milonga. I have known Luis for 7 years. He still doesn't know my name. He either calls me "Nelida" or "Lilli". Go figure. I wait for Luis to come seat me. I am going to get the table. Sondra and Dorita will meet me here.
Luis comes towards me. "Nelida" he booms. I roll my eyes. "Lilli?" "What is wrong with you?" I ask him. "Deby" I say to him. "D-E-B-Y." He finds this funny. Really I think he just likes to torture me. I tell him he has to give me a good table or Sondra will kill him. That and he has to give us a bottle of champagne. He tells me Sondra is not here. Before I can say anything, I hear Sondra's voice. She and Dorita are right behind me. Sondra cracks me up. She is right in Luis' face demanding a good table. He goes into his usual song about how we are too late, blah, blah, blah.
"Then," she tells him. "You owe us a bottle of champagne." Out of thin air Luis produces a table and 3 chairs. He places it next to Jimena, my friend. She sees us coming and waves me over. "You can sit with me." she says. I thank her and tell her Luis is putting a table together for us next to hers.
Jimena is the organizer of La Milonga de Las Morochas at El Beso on Saturday night. She is also my kindred spirit in many ways. She is a trapeze artist who does a beautiful show of acrobatics on a trapeze which is really a length of beautiful fabric hanging from the ceiling. Six months before my car accident she fell 15 meters (50 feet). She shattered her ankle, broke her leg, and fractured a vertebrae. The doctors told her that she would never work again as an acrobat.
She was the one who recommended Sabrina to me. She worked with Sabrina to regain her body. To me Sabrina is a miracle worker, Jimena is my angel. She saved me with Sabrina. I tell her this all the time. We were in rehabilitation together. We are two women with very strong wills. We were determined to come back regardless of what the doctors told us.
Jimena started coming to this milonga after I told her about it. She
agrees that it is a great milonga. It is a neighborhood milonga. The
people here rarely dance with people they don't know. When the odd
tourist pops up they rarely dance. It takes a long time for these
locals to dance with people they don't know. They are interested in quality in their dance, not quantity.
In addition to being an acrobat Jimena is a beautiful dancer. Strangely enough the same men who invite me to dance are the same ones who invite her. Except for the ones who still will not dance with me because I am foreign, because of my ex-partner, because the moon is void of course. Unfortunately several times when I am being invited to dance she jumps up before the men come to get me. I really don't mind. I know there will be another invitation.
A man invites me to dance who I really enjoy dancing with. He rarely invites me. It is annoying sometimes how these men behave. This guy wears thick glasses, has a big nose, and a stomach. I would never give him a look. But here in the milonga he is a king. What can you do?
"¿Como estas? I ask him. "Bien, estoy en tu abrazo" he answers me. (Great, I am in your arms) He tells me how much he misses dancing with me. I think to myself, what an idiot. He never invites me. I decide to be bold. "It is your fault." I tell him. "You never invite me." He laughs, "That is because I get too excited dancing with you." Uh oh, time to shut up.
When the tanda ends I come back to the table. "Che?" Jimena asks me, "¿Tu cadera?" (Your hip) I tell her it is OK. "You would never know anything happened." she says to me. I laugh. "Well I don't really have pain all the time like before, just sometimes, a little reminder. I can turn to the right, but the left, well I am still working on it. I tell her." I don't like to talk about my damaged body. "And you" I tell her, "are more than amazing." She laughs, "No you! I remember when you could hardly move." "You too, I argue. You were hurt way more than me." "No" she insists, "You were hurt way more than I was." We stop and laugh. "Listen to us! We are arguing who was hurt worse!"
The truth is we are both very strong women. We were determined to rebuild our lives. It is a sign of our refusing to give in. To accept that we would never be the same as before. Jimena wears a simple necklace most days. It appears to be a metal pendant hanging on a black string. I told her that I thought it was beautiful. She told me it was the plate they put in her ankle. "It reminds me I have limits." she told me. I was overcome with emotion when she said this.
"Tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of my milonga, you should come." She invites me. I tell her I will try. I take flyers for her milonga to give to the guests in my apartment. It is amazing the situations that bring people together. I never would have thought broken bones would create a friendship for me with this special woman.