The surreal darkness of early morning was like a clean slate to my fragile ego. As we all gathered outside the school entrance to start our way home from the dance my classmates surrounded me and my date for our stroll home. I thought of the wonderful and long forgotten feelings of happiness I had felt in the remote past and how at that moment I couldn’t be more jubilant.
The night street scene, which at one time reminded me of street fights, confrontations and the depressing look of decay on many of the board buildings, loomed auspicious and my future actually looked bright. The early morning dew that surrounded us was just barely perceptible through the dimly lit street lights at those wee hours of the morning.
We didn’t have far to walk and I would see to it that my fair lady, Albina, got home safely. Hoping that her family would accept me was yet another one of my prayers. We had still hardly spoken to one another or even looked at each other, I thought, as we rounded the well known corner at La Flor Panameña Bakery. Suddenly, one of her younger brothers showed up on cue to escort her over to her house and she slipped away from her well behaved dance partner with her brother following close behind.
Our group continued down the familiar Central Avenue we had grown so familiar with in that part of Calidonia. Then, as if we were on a mission, we all stopped to say good night to one girl after another until only we boys were left on the street. The boys then would run up the stairs of one of the apartment buildings or into one of the neighborhood patios leaving the rest of the group under the dimmed street lights. That would be the Panama City we all would want to remember as we would soon part company for the rest of our lives.
Soon it was my turn to bid them all farewell running up through the familiar part of “P” Street from Central Avenue and heading up the stairs to the third floor of Magnolia Building.
I quietly slipped through the door of our apartment which had been left open for me trying to be real quiet as I unfolded the army cot I slept on and prepared for a good morning sleep. The next day would be Saturday and I felt reassured that I would surely find something to take up my time now that I was a budding adolescent. It suddenly dawned on me that I had grown up that night at the Pedro J. Sosa School dance. It had been a uniquely beautiful experience, a gentle introduction into the world of adults. I had never, in fact, heard my bossy Aunt Gwendolyn, who had attended that school, talk about such things.
Suddenly, as sleep dimmed my tired senses I began thinking of my deceased Uncle Eric, the first in my family to have ever graduated from secondary school. Eric had always been my shining light ever since I had heard his story from my grandmother when I queried her about an unusual rack full of beautiful men’s ties still hanging in the closet as if any minute the dashing figure of a young man would appear to begin dressing for the day.
Again, the experiences of the past day and night of my “Good Friday” would fill my thoughts as I awoke to the brightness of Saturday morning. The experiences of the night before for me had been like some fairytale written in Europe with the only difference being that I was the “Cinderello” of that magical night and my carriage had not turned back into a pumpkin.
This story continues.