The blood God pulsed in our veins.

We’re children, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we learn to dance, more specifically, the polka. Why the polka? It’s not really a question we ask because we all very well know we go to a Polish Catholic school and the question is somewhat akin to “Why breathe?”

Marcie’s grandparents teach us how. Full disclosure: her great-aunt and her grandmother married her great-uncle and her grandfather…or some combination of the four. I can never keep them straight in my head. I just remember warm smiles and whole histories that are often lost on us early ’90s kids. I just remember them being kind, and I suppose that’s the most important thing I could ever remember.

I’m paired with my best friend, Alex, who is a boy and has to be led correctly due to this impediment. But then I quickly learn that it’s Alex who is supposed to be leading me, and after a quick break for me to giggle at this insanity, I’m then led around by someone who feels like bird bones in my hand but who has always beat me rollerblading regardless.

I’m then paired with Patrick and I think even one time Gregory who kissed me on the back of the head in kindergarten, setting off an explosive desire to have him arrested for his poor decision-making and lack of regard for my personal space.

We 1-2-3–our feet quick and agile–during designated school time, and I don’t even think it’s during recess. I think we get both recess and this absurd exercise that doesn’t at all seem absurd when it functions as a sense of one’s history.

We eventually go to “the competition.” Other kids are dancing, too, but I don’t remember them doing the polka. I think perhaps they were ripping off dances from other people’s cultures and using them as an excuse to try and win first place.

Not us.

We danced the way Marcie’s grandparents taught us because there are people buried behind the old school house in the cemetery where people we know still go to be buried. We dance because of all the black and white and sepia photos of people unsmiling that we’ve seen since that first regrettable year of kindergarten when Gregory usurped my dominion over my very own skull.

I often think of the blood God pulsed in our veins, and the community that grew because of it, and how grateful I’ve always been to do something nobody else can or ever really cares about.

And I’m not even Polish.

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