“Because someone is different from us …”

I used to go blues dancing at a house in Provo, Utah on Thursday nights. I had happened into the group of people who sponsored the dances because they were also in the local Lindy Hop scene, and they were such a funny, eclectic group of people that I really enjoyed myself there. Blues nights were held at an older house with wooden floors that some absurdly large number of college boys rented together; they would clear all the furniture from the living and dining rooms and, with a little help from Lou Rawls, would transform the place into a vintage Chicago juke joint for the night.

It was at blues nights that I first met a friend who I’ll call Nate. Nate was all smiles, but quiet, and usually parked himself at one end of the room. He was friends with the exotic-looking Isabelle, a tango dancer with tattoos and piercings and those hippie pants made of hemp that brought back memories of my teenage years in Missoula, Montana and the smell of patchouli and marijuana. He and Isabelle started showing up at blues nights when the organizer had decided to include some tango lessons and they’d been there regularly ever since. I was curious about the two of them and where they’d come from. It’s safe to say that in Provo, Utah, you don’t meet all the same patchouli and hemp pants sort of people you meet in Missoula, and I wondered about what they did in this area and what had brought them here. I would chat with Nate from time to time when he’d ask me to dance. I found out he was a fellow vegetarian (not sure how that comes up in casual conversations, but there you go) and that he worked at an animal rescue farm somewhere in the area. He also told me about a vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Salt Lake which I was really excited about. He was such a happy and pleasant person and I probably should have made more of an effort at the time to get to know both him and Isabelle, but I would soon find myself whisked away to Taiwan for an 8-month internship. Continue reading