Pete's Blog

Girl

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As some of you may know, we had a charity dance in February, and we called it the Old Settlers' Ball. It was a costume-ball, with contra dancing, to raise money for Burmese refugee relief. Pretty much everybody dressed as they would for this kind of occasion 150 years ago, when Bainbridge Island was frontier. Among the attractions were several young girls in handmade old-fashioned ball gowns. My daughter was one of these, the purple streaks in her long, thick hair going surpisingly well with the dark blue of her dress and the red fan danglling from a cord around her wrist. I know all these details not because my visual memory is so acute, but because I have the photos up as a slide show on my computer and I study them constantly. I follow her eyes as she looks across the room. Who is she looking at? Who is looking at her? She is so beautiful anyway and was so stunning that night it seems that some of the younger boys stood there pole-axed. Did any of them flirt? With this one she's smiling, with another she looks away. I had some rights because I had paid for her plane ticket. There are photos of us dancing (one taken from the back, showing the elegant curve of her neck and arm, is on my desktop) and of us sitting things out. There is one formal-style portrait of us against a black backdrop. I sit and she stands behind me, resting a hand on my shoulder. She looks gracious and serene. I look tired and sweaty, my string tie is crooked and my hair is in my eyes. You can tell I'm trying not to think about tomorrow's drive to the airport. And you can't tell what she's thinking at all. The Sphinx was female, after all, and my daughter carries with her all the inscrutability of a perfect young beauty, before whom we quite often die, stammering.

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