The Oplin Chance

Sunday, February 05, 2012

There's a hype and a call as I made my way into the crowded hall. There was stamping and dancing and laughing and calling. The room was spinning, people were clapping and the noise was unbelievable. I stood amazed, staring. Suddenly I felt a strong pull on my hand and I was whisked away just in time to avoid collision with a twirling couple.

"Sorry about that!" the gentlemen yelled out, tipping his cowboy hat in my direction. The lady upon his arm just laughed and winked at me.

"Welcome to the good ol' country dance." My friend - my saviour - smiled at me and was then whisked away by a handsome cowboy onto the dance floor.

Not wanting to feel awkward, I tried to shuffle near the back where the people I came with gathered. But I accidentally bumped into another person on the way.

"I'm really sorry!" I stumbled out awkwardly at him.

"It's no problem." He smiled at me. I smiled apologetic back at him, and tried to ease my way to people that I know. Which wasn't saying a lot because the friends that I were suppose to come with all couldn't come at the last minute but they assured me to come for the "Texan" experience, so with a what-the-heck I climbed into a car of excited girls donned in cowboy boots and beautiful dresses while I shuffled my worn-to-death red converse embarrassingly.

"I'm Michael." The guy who I bumped into continued talking.

"Ohh. Erm." I composed myself, "Hi! My name is Karlyn."

"Hi Karlyn. Would you like to dance?" He extended his hand out to me.

Ohmigosh. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo was my first, very strong instinct, but was quickly replaced by, what-the-heck. You're already here. You may as well go for it.

"Sure!" I grinned confidently at him as I took his hand and he lead me to the middle.

He put his arm around my waist as I put mine on his shoulder, "errrm, I should warn you! I have never danced before."

"Haha! Then I'll teach you. It's easy. Follow me. It's one two one. One two one. One two one. One two one."

He guided me around the dance floor.

"one two one. One two one. One two one. There! You got it already!" he exclaimed proudly.

I laughed. So I did!

When the song ended, he gave me a twirl.

And just as he let go, my friend who I came with tapped me on the shoulder.

"How was that?!" she shrieked at me over the real live band that was starting up again.

"It was awesome!" I grinned enthusiastically at her.

"Do you wanna dance with me?" She smiled at me and extended her hand.

I took it. And we kicked and danced and twirled trying to copy the moves of the elderly couple in front of us. We ended up laughing and tumbling over each other until even the couple turned around to watch the spectacle we were making of ourselves.

The band never stopped playing and people never stopped dancing. When I managed to have time for a breather, I made my way to the chairs lined at the back of the hall. I dropped down next to one of the girls - Cassie - who came in the same car with me and proceeded to talk to her.

But soon someone came to ask to dance with her, and with a smile and a wave, she left me alone. But I was content. I could watch and soak up the events happening around me without obligation to make conversation.

This was obviously a big thing for the youth of small town Texas. A Friday night dance, where they could all gather and go crazy - in the most that a conservative texan town can -with friends and boys (girls for vice versa).
And the most interesting thing was that this was not just a night that the youth delighted in. Old couples held onto each other, some laughing as loud as the youth and step dancing to the fast beats, and others who would just lay their heads on each other and take their time moving to their own rhythm and pace.

One two one. One two one. One two one.

"Sweet huh?" a voice next to me said.

I looked to see a guy sitting by me staring at the same old couples that I was just watching. "One of my most favorite things about the Oplin dance is watching the elderly couples slow dancing the whole night," he continued.

I smiled, "I would love to do that with the guy I grow old with one day too." I confessed simply.

He looked at me. "My name is John."

"I'm Karlyn."

Just then the current song ended and a fast one came on.

"Come on! We have to dance to this!" He grabbed my hand and we rushed to the happening part of the dance floor. And we danced.

I may have only learned the steps a couple of songs earlier, and I told him just as much, but he still insisted on teaching me new moves. I stepped on his feet so many times it was embarrassing but he just laughed.

"Let loose! Just enjoy and let me lead you. I'll keep you safe." He grinned at me.

Just as he said that, we collided into another couple on the dance floor. After hurried apologies and a few laughs I turned back to him. "Safe huh?" I accused.

"Well, relatively. Just trust me. And have fun!"

And I did. After he got use to me stepping on his toes and I got use to him grimacing and shaking his head mockingly at me, I managed to let go and let loose.

After all, I can't get worse than I already am. And this was my last night in Oplin, Texas.

We swirled the fast songs and glided along the slow ones. He told me where he came from and the struggles he faced coming here and I told him where I was from and the struggles I was facing leaving here. He told me about his dad and family and I told him about mine. We laughed about how non-Chinese the Chinese food was here and groaned alike reminiscing on how restrictive conservative communities are.

The night passed by just like that. We danced with many other people. I danced with boys who were completely at ease dancing with a stranger, and others who were scared to make a mistake. And when there was no boys to dance with, I would grab one of the girls I came in the car with, make them dance the lead role as I had no idea how to, and we would prance around the hall like fools.

And like the true texan dance that it was, the second last dance was the chicken dance! Everyone in the hall made circles and linked arms and hooted and yelled and wiggled to the dance.

But like, all good things, it had to come to an end. Just as the clock struck 10:30pm (which in Texas is equivalent to 12:00 midnight), there was a call for last dance. The girl and I shrugged at each other as we made our way away from the floor to make room for others scrambling to find someone for last dance.

And just then, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

"May I have this last dance with you?" it was my knight in shining boots of course.

I just smiled brightly at him and accepted his hand. He held me in his arms and we danced the last dance together. We didn't talk much, which was a change from the incessant chatter earlier. But it wasn't awkward, and instead of filling the silence with empty last promises, we just enjoyed the music, the place, the people, and that empty capsule of time we had left. Over his shoulder I saw other couples taking their time too. I smiled. Knowing that everything I was seeing then was like a mental photograph taken and kept to be drawn out at a later time for melancholic reminiscence. I focused back on him, making sure to take this mental photograph too.

The song came to an end, and he twirled me one last time and then he bowed. He hugged me and told me to take care and that maybe, we'll see each other one day. I laughed and said maybe.

"We'll see where the Lord takes us." He smiled assuredly.

"Bye." I said.

"Bye." He replied.

And that was that. It was an adventure in itself to round all the girls together to herd back to the car. Once we left the hall, the wind outside was hostile and being typical me, I forgot to bring my jacket so Cassie - a friend I made - and I ran, me howling and screaming at how mean the cold was. We doubled up in laughter running back because we couldn't locate the car, and even when we managed to find it, we didn't know how to unlock the darn vehicle. We were jumping and shivering and hopping around the car hoping that anything we pressed or anything we yelled would somehow open the car and shield us from the impending cold whipping us outside. We managed to open the door by complete accident and fell in breathing hard, laughing so hard we can see our foggy breaths.

During the long drive back to Abilene, one of the other girls perked up,

"Hey Karlyn, I'm really glad you came tonight. And that instead of being all awkward, you just went out there and went for it. I'm so proud of you. And you're quite good at dancing for your first time!"

I laughed so hard, partly because it wasn't her whose toes I had to step on so many times. I assured them that I had a good time. And I did.

And honestly, if I didn't have the mindset of leaving, I would never have given myself the chance to do that.
It makes me wonder what other things in life I miss out on just because I'm too afraid to try, or because I always tell myself that I would get another chance to do that.

And I wonder, can you really regret the chances you never knew you missed out on?


  1. !Thank you for being my first ever comment! :)
    I appreciate your feedback and compliments on my story.
    You had some really good opinions and you sparked an inspiration!
    Thank you I will continue the story, but I'm changing the name to Aftermath.
    I just wanted to add that in making my decision on whether or not to follow you, your stories made up my mind for me.
    I love how you use yourself as inspiration. I love how you take everyday happenings and personalize them, as if you were putting your reader in the room.
    Keep at it girl! You are definately tacked onto my inspo sheet! :)

  2. Ohmigosh! I am slightly ashamed that I am only reading this now, MONTHS after your comment, I assure you, I have no idea how your comment never reached my notifications. But thank you for your comment all the same =] I do try my best in whatever I'm writing, and hey, you can find inspiration in the least of places, if only one is willing to look.

    Haha! Thanks for the follow. I hope that you feel free to comment/constructively criticize any of my work because as a fellow aspiring writer, I sincerely value your input.

    Much love!