The fire danced in the midnight sky

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I sat at the fire burning bright orange, white and yellow against the dark night. We were talking, drinking beers and enjoying ourselves. I longed to know more about one of the women around the fire.

I remember the smell of the wood smoke and the meat grilling on the coals, the sound of our voices standing out in the still night air. I remember the excitement of being with people I knew and those who I had only just met for the first time. It was thrilling to be out there in the dark of the night huddled together around the warmth of friends and fire.

The radio came on and a few songs later I heard Mr. Bojangles by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It wasn’t the lyrics, nor the music but perhaps just the thought of someone old but enjoying life in a simple way that stood out.

Time moves swiftly, time drags, time flashes by in an instant. Time on that night slowed down, and everything happened as though watching a slow motion film where my feelings, thoughts, and mind seemed to take almost everything in. The memory of that night feels like a slice of time stored for the rest of my life.

The song captured the night for me and imprinted the picture of that night on my mind. I got the address of that young woman. When I returned home the distance physically and the cultural difference in those days made things impossible and it all fizzled out.

I went back about 40 decades later to the place on the Cape coast where we had once in our youth spent that night together. I couldn’t recognize where the house had been.

I wondered what had happened to that young woman I had taken an interest in. Did she get married? Did she live a good life? Is she still alive? Does she remember me?

It doesn’t matter anymore. All I have and all I want is that precious memory of that night when we were young and enjoying ourselves.

When I hear that song, I think about the fire that danced and leapt in the night. I feel the energy of that wandering minstrel who danced and jumped so high. That night also makes me think about the incredible speed that time can have. There we were in that year of our youth. How suddenly it receded. Gone. A pinch of time.

The night was so memorable because that was a time when we could jump high, dance like crazy, and stood with fire in our souls ?at the cusp of our adulthood.

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