Oh to teleport back to the 80s with scrunchies in my hair and airbrushed sweatshirts and jeans that tapered neatly into my Keds. To watch Jaws for the first time on a hot July day while lying on my stomach with my cousins in front of a tiny square television…with antenna. I still don’t go in the ocean. I miss slap bracelets and Shera and Fraggle Rock. I miss cartoons when they didn’t break the fourth wall to ask you to choose between the map or the backpack for your treasure hunt.
But more than anything I miss Patrick Swayze. In particular, I miss the Swayze of Dirty Dancing. I miss Johnny Castle. He was my everything. That tight black t-shirt. Those tight black jeans. And he was always sweating. It must be sweltering in the Catskills in the summer. I miss those muscles that rippled across his back when he danced with his shirt off. But more than anything else, I miss the way he looked at Baby.
I once fancied myself a dead ringer for Jennifer Grey. Well, the old Jennifer Grey, before the nose job and with the big hair. I had that 80s permed out fluff. I’m not a dancer though. Really, you don’t want to try to do that lift in the lake with me. Throw me over your head and I’ll kick you in the face or crush you or both. I can’t do the twist and I do not wear heels…ever. But there’s something in me that feels a bit like her, the Jennifer Grey of the movie, Frances (Baby) Houseman, after all these years. Baby was curious. She was insecure. She was brave and stupid. I’ve got those covered.
You want to know when I’m feeling particularly Jennifer-y? It’s when I remember I’ve got a Patrick. I’ve got a guy who looks at me like that. I’ve got the guy who will hold a hand out to draw me out. He can still give me a look, while the kids scream and wipe snot on my shoulder, that says, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” He does it with the kids too. He’ll get our special needs son out of his wheelchair to stretch him and help him stand. Nothing beats the look on a four-year old’s face whose standing in the arms of his daddy. He’ll build elaborate Lego forts with our twins (way past bedtime and my sanity, but still). And he always makes sure to look every single one of us in the eye and listen until we’re done talking or sighing or crying.
He’s got the groove. My groove.
And yet…with three kids, a mortgage, and a fridge full of squeeze pouches and Costco wine, I forget. More often than not, I catch myself treating him like a squishy Jim Belushi—a fine comedic partner, but not swoon-worthy. I give him our life in lists: Here’s what went down today and here’s what can never happen again or I am quitting motherhood (this one usually involves poop in places it should not be). I wear sweatpants and Uggs and wash my hair as little as my dry shampoo will let me. If he’s Jim Belushi, I’m a grungy Janeane Garofalo.
And yet…we marry who we marry because they nudge some part of us that needs nudging. They wake up that 80s girl with the big hair and awkward dance moves who needs to be seen, acid washed jeans and all. Swayze’s magic as Johnny wasn’t the dance moves. It was his ability to see what was hidden and draw it out. So what if we let ourselves remember? What if we took ourselves back to that best night or best yesterday when he was Swayze all the way? What if you let yourself remember that somewhere along the line, he looked at you and said, you’re worth the dance? You’re worth the sleepless nights and whirlwind days with kids. You’re worth the building of a life. What would that gentle throwback do for you? That’s a tight black t-shirt, a hand held out, a perfect pick up line rolled into one. That’s Swayze sexy.