This past weekend I flew to Detroit from my home in Ithaca, NY. To visit my oldest of three granddaughters, Denali. She is studying for a master’s degree in Business Administration, while I’m taking my last online prerequisite course in order to apply to Ithaca College’s Master in Education beginning June 2020.
It is our special one-to-one time, a rare gift as during the holidays other family members bite off her time too. She texts me, “Bring your dancing shoes; salsa dance Thursday night.” She’s in class, so I ride the ‘Smart Bus’ for an hour to meet her; to have dinner at Karls, one of her favorite restaurants. I’ve never been IN Detroit (only the airport), so I’m in her smart hands, and into her warm arms as she runs to meet me at the bus stop. Denali’s love is extra special (tears) to me – as if she is the loving spirit of my passed-on daddy.
After dinner, we retreat to her spacious apartment of 1930’s origin so we can change my clothes for salsa; she’s wavering on whether to go as it’s late: 10:43pm? My energy encourages us to proceed to her car. A large wooden floor welcomes us into the bar. She grabs my hand to pull me onto the dance floor where I lead her in salsa. Soon I was asked to dance which surprised me as the leaders are much much younger than me – more like Denali who is 26. Maybe a couple were in their forties. I’m 73, 5’9” with long straight hair, the natural color brown that my mother wore until she died at 80. (Maybe she had 10 gray hairs? Maybe that helps me?) Denali and I were both asked to dance until we left at 1am. Her tight dress and my tight jeans had a fabulous time! I’m extremely greatfull to be healthy and to be with Denali!
Friday, she has no classes; still we both study for 2 hours, and she helps me with my Economics quiz before we walk in Belle Isle for 2 hours. Our conversation flows like the Detroit river beside us. Gently. Easily. Deeply. Lightly.
She spotted a striped shiny green frog, colors I’d never seen before. I spotted a Great Blue Heron standing nearby us, me encouraging Denali to come closer. Quietly. Although cloudy, its reflection is seen. Clearly. I took photos delightedly. With no awareness as to why. Until, I wrote in my journal the next morning.
Denali and I continue our afternoon with a tour of the Nature Conservancy’s Aquarium and Botanical Gardens where we were photographed stooping under an Angel’s Trumpet loaded with very light yellowish blossoms. Hugely. Friday night we dance ballroom where everyone is 30-50 years older than Denali and I was surprised that she liked it…she says because she’s learning new dances where there are novices. Not so intimidating.
Shockingly, we couldn’t find any dancing in Detroit on Saturday night after we explored a couple vintage secondhand shops and ate a Yemenian dinner. Denali, then suggests she read an essay to me called, The River, by Adrienne Maree Brown.
Intimate, like realizing the Great Blue Heron’s reflection was significant as reflecting on who I am in my journal. What I feel…like great love for Denali, whose name means the great one.