Images of a man. Carl Flores.
Sometimes words cannot express what a life has meant or how profound its effect can be. But here are a few of mine for a man I scarcely knew, but loved, nonetheless, deeply.
Images of a man.
Round and kind and smart and able.
Being apart of the partner dance community means two things when faced with loss.
One: when one of our own passes, we mourn it together, like family.
Two: the people we mourn, although we may not have known the knitty gritty, insides of their daily lives; we know something else. Something deep and something profoundly special.
We know a sliver of them. The essential essence of a soul.
Transpired through the way their body moves to the music, the way their heart feels, thumping away beneath the layers of sweat soaked dance clothing, cologne, skin, muscle and bone.
It's deeper than a small conversation. Harder to explain than a color. And more real and present than a light being switched on. We are privileged to know one another in this way.
I knew Carl in fits and snatches.
I met him at the first official blues event I ever attended. We were housed together. Which was a blessing for me, as I slid my feet into the cool water of the partner dancing pool for the first time. I remember his kindness and how I quickly felt safe, at home, around him.
I remember his laughter, crammed together with another of our housemates, in my brother's aqua green Geo Metro, driving home in the wee hours of the morning, sweat soaked and deliciously happy. The windows down and the chilly New Mexican desert air blowing in on our faces.
One of my silliest memories with Carl, was at fusion exchange a few years back. In the grimy outskirts of Oakland in a large dimly lit ballroom, around 4am, I actually managed to fully fall asleep on Carl's shoulder while we danced. My feet still, somehow, keeping time with his.
The last time I saw Carl, it was unexpected.
I was living in Baltimore and one night, on a whim my roommates and I decided to drive up to Philly and dance the Saturday night dance of Blues Muse.
We arrived in a crush of people, most of which I only vaguely recognized. But suddenly there, in the middle of it all, was Carl. Our eyes met and recognition, surprise and delight lit up each of our faces and we broke open into great big smiles.
Carl was always so good at making room so you could feel included, putting an arm around you like you mattered.
That night I kept stealing dances with him. And he kept letting me. We chatted together about life and it was somehow deeper than just chit chat. I could feel the heart within him and the kindness in his words, asking me about my own.
At the end of the evening, my very last dance was with Carl. I didn't realize it would be the last one I would share with him.
As we hugged our last, I told him how thankful I was for him. And that I loved him.
As I watch my Facebook news feed be flooded with images and posts about his life and heart and the way he touched each one of us; so personally. I can't help but be grateful for it.
For these golden threads that sew us through each other's lives.
Connecting each one of us, together.
I am so thankful for you Carl. For your kindness and generosity of spirit. And for our mad good dances.
Perhaps I didn't know everything about Carl's life or his past. But I shared a bit of my Right Now with him. And he with me. And it touched me and it changed each of us. And however brief our time together was, you cannot say I didn't love that man. Because I did. Because I do. And the next time, I step onto the dance floor, in my heart I know that I'll be saying, "Carl, this one's for you."