I was more interested in what was orchestrated in front of me last night than the sounds emanating from the stage. The Texas wind whipped cowboy hats and well coiffed hair like ranchers trying to wrangle cows into corrals...all this way and that. Iced filled coolers bounced along cement as arms struggled with folding chairs, excited hands of young children already dancing to their own tunes and koozies wrapped tightly around well chilled cans, all the time searching the crowd for a perfect spot to settle or that friendly face or neighbor. Older men with their lifelong partners easing open the collapsible chairs and carefully, gently, taking both hands of their loves and gliding them to their seat and then turning to do the same for the friend who had lost their love so many years ago. The politicians who put everything together making the crowd and pressing flesh, never missing an opportunity to make all things about them.
The band starts and people enter the street to Texas Two Step and home arrives as it does in no other state. Men walk out to the street, belt buckles almost as large as the bellies upon which they rest, and with arms outstretched gather up spaghetti strapped sun dress women in cowboy boots, gleaming in the fading Texas sun with beads of perspiration because ladies never sweat. No one seems to care that singers can't hold a note or that the band plays off key because it is never about music when neighbors and family come together, the beer is cold, your honey is in your arms, and the Texas breeze keeps the sweat from sopping your clothes.
As the hours go by and more cans are removed from now well soaked koozies, children run freely without the encumbrance of uptight parents, laughter is as strong as the wind and the steps on the street are often more stumble, even while dancing. Police officers walk the crowd but their smiles are as bright as the Chesire cat and people greet them with hugs, pats on the back and sincere welcome. Authority, safety, welfare, in our town is everything and our officers are family and we look to them as such. They are not there to put a damper on anyone's good time but to make sure a good time is had by all. I look out and think I wish everyone in America could have even a part of this moment, this warmth, this love in their lives. I am as different from the people I see in front of me as day is to night and yet I am as one with them as if we shared the same skin because what I want for those I love is what they want for their loves...a great place to live and be.
I watch a little girl run endlessly through the street and up and down the steps, arms waving, pig tails flying, imagination soaring with every step. I watch as first her grandmother tries to keep up with her movement and then searches with frantic eyes to telegraph a message for mom to come take over. I find out the little girl is from Tokyo and was rescued after the earthquake and has come to live here with her new family. She is a beautiful child dressed in her purple skirt, blouse and in training to be a Texas tornado from the looks of her energy. Two more children have a group of adults entertained with dance routines and I watch as a younger sister apes every movement of an older brother. It is clear he is her hero and it is also clear why as it is apparent there is little room for either in the adult world to which they have been assigned. I watched them for a very long time and it was so clear how desperate they were for even the tiniest bit of recognition, attention and I couldn't help think...I wonder if a gentle hug, an honest I love and care about you would send the poor darlings into shock. It is never lost on me that I do not live in a storybook and even in a public place people cannot be anything other than what they are...human. I too am nothing other than who I am and I had to fight the urge to go over and tell those kids I cared that they were there and they mattered to me even though I didn't even know their names. I am not good in a fight on my good days and right now would not be a good time for me to learn Texas street fighting techniques.
As the evening progressed, the bands played, and the wind caused the smell of Harold's wine to filter much farther than my nostrils, I shifted my weight to the opposite direction out toward 190 and the north side of the old courthouse. I watched a man we had noticed earlier and Harold had thought might be with one of the bands, as he had taken a change of clothes out of his pickup. He was wearing shorts, flip flops and a cotton shirt and looked more like an Austin person but definitely from out of town. When the music started he'd placed his lawn chair and cooler up close to the stage but now hours had passed and I had watched him pass through the crowd noticing women. I would say the man was in his late 40s or early 50s and as I watched him appreciate the human form, I saw he noticed me noticing. He continued to look my way throughout the evening but I would only watch him when I knew he was not watching me. I think Harold has me watching too many CSI shows because this mans behavior bothered me more than a little. It was almost as if he was hunting and there was a very primal feel to his movement and to the way he would stop feet away from a woman and watch without her being aware he was watching. I told Harold I never watched a single cop show before he retired and in fact, didn't watch television and now he has me seeing CSI episodes at Texas street dances!
I guess after all the wonder of watching people I care about have such a great time, children set themselves free with abandon and write my episode of a crime drama, I was ready to call it a night. Harold folded our collapsible chairs, grabbed the handle to our cooler and I looked up at the clock on the old courthouse and thanked our beautiful little town for yet again letting me into its heart. There are things I cannot buy here and perhaps a town with just two traffic lights is not a place anyone would call dynamic but I can tell you this when you come dance in the streets of San Saba, Texas you will dance without fear, hold your honey close and go home with the music of Texas still in your heart.