How Patrick Swayze Ruined Me

I remember when the movie Dirty Dancing came out in theaters. I was in college, still recovering from a heartbreak, still holding out hope that someone would look at me like Johnny Castle looked at Baby Houseman. Or later how Sam Wheat looked at Molly Jensen, whether or not he was a Ghost. Or Dalton looked at Doc while dancing in a loft apartment after work in Road House.

Swayze had a way about him, how he held a woman in his arms, how when he looked at her you knew he was seeing more than the outward appearance. He absorbed the essence of the person. They were the only person in the world at the moment. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to be held and appreciated for who they are at the deepest levels.

That’s one of the challenges of writing such moments. How do you convey such all-encompassing passion and attention with mere words? As a writer, my hope is that I reach into the memory bank of my readers and tap into moments they’ve already experienced, bring them back to the great joys and even the great heartaches. I want to add to those memories, spice up the flavor, sharpen the sweet ache so they feel what the character on the page is feeling.

It’s a challenge. Twenty-six letters. A thousand and one emotions. Hopefully it’s enough.

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