We saunter into the hotel lobby, wet flip flops slapping the tiles. I choose a wobbly table and sit, scan the room: A young mom and her lanky husband, flinging a baby in the air, a group of sunburned beach bums wearing ragged band shirts. Teen boys flick towels at each other and a whirling ceiling fan sends gusts of salty air in my direction. Foamy mugs of beer glisten in the golden haze of open windows.
“Want one? you ask. I nod, smile, watch you head to the bar. A pimply young musician finishes his set. The sound of warbling electronica buzzes like an insect in my ears. When his fingers stroke the chords, I flinch. But he slows his pace, pulls a hand from his guitar and lets the sound echo and die. I breathe deeply, take in the room again and it’s chaos — the cliques at the bar, the couples buying drinks. Everyone’s swirling in separate worlds outside of the cacophony. Pimply musician winds a thick black cord around his hand as he packs his equipment for the road.
“Fort Lauderdale,” he hollers to a man who seems to have asked.
Another guitarist finds a spot upfront. He is leather-skinned with tousled hair and black sunglasses, legs like spindly branches. He stands near a side entry where a wet trickle of towel-clad beach goers shortcut to their rooms, sand-dusted and oblivious. He holds his guitar, plugs it in and begins to strum; his long, brown fingers snag the strings as the sound slices the air with sharp notes.
His fingers move fast, faster, smooth as swimming fish, weaving and fluttering naturally, intensely. They are light and furious, fluid and wild. The sound cracks open the room. His song prickles our skin and we are sucked into a nexus of sound, vacuumed like lint from a rug. We are spinning, reeling.
A crowd begins to form where the passersby once plodded through the room unaware. Some smile, others swivel their hips or tap their bare toes in small puddles made by soggy beachwear.
You slide my beer across the table and our eyes beam; we arch our eyebrows in agreement. A man pulls a woman close and they shimmy across the floor, cheek to chest.
My hands surprise me, they are pecking at the table in front of me, pounding out the beat. They feel foreign to me so I hold them up and examine them as they continue to pulse. There is a deeper rhythm here, a collective heartbeat in which the room now throbs. And I realize I have been taken. We have been taken. Swept away. If only for a moment, a song.
Rica Lewis is a senior staff writer for an award-winning magazine in Florida. Her essays have appeared on The Sunlight Press, Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, Motherwell, Open Thought Vortex and more. She’s currently penning her memoir on single motherhood, post-divorce. Website: ricawrites.com | Twitter: @ricawrites.