I would like to know what "I wished it could be us out there." means in the following sentences:

‘Goodness,’ sighed Karolina, rolling her eyes, ‘doesn’t he tell you anything? Maksio and Hania are siblings.’

I was taken aback, without quite knowing why. ‘That makes sense, I suppose.’

‘Yes, it does,’ she said, looking at Maksio, who was now kissing the blonde. ‘The same sense of entitlement. Did you see how she dragged Janusz away from us?’

I shrugged, trying to keep my mind at bay. ‘They’re friends. Why shouldn’t she dance with him?’

A slow song was playing now, a dark, profound voice singing in English, lamenting something bygone. And the dancing couples turned and swayed in their own orbits, their own planetary paths. I couldn’t see you on the crowded dance floor. I wished it could be us out there.

‘So how are you?’ asked Karolina, seeing me look for you.

I shrugged, feeling my head spin again. ‘Good, I guess. I’m seeing Mielewicz next week. I think he’s read my proposal.’

In this novel which is set in the 1980's in Poland under the socialist regime, where homosexuality was socially unacceptable, the protagonist Ludwik (a university graduate) left Poland in 1981 to live in the United States of America. And he remembers what it was like back then in Poland, where he went to the birthday party of his rich friend Hania with his lover Janusz. In the party room, they met Ludwik's best friend Karolina. So the three danced together till they were out of breath. Afterwards, when they were resting, Hania, who was the daughter of some high Party officer and was in love with Janusz, came towards them and suggested Janusz to dance with her. So Hania and Janusz left, leaving Ludwik with Karolina.

In this part, I wonder what this boldfaced sentence means. Does it mean that Ludwik wanted the three of them (Karolina, Janusz, Ludwik) to dance as they had before? Or that Ludwik wanted the two of them (Karolina and Ludwik) to dance at the floor so that they could see Janusz and Hania dancing...?

I am an English learner from South Korea, so thank you for your patience in advance as I may not know obvious things. I would very much appreciate your help. :)

2 Answers 2


The 'us' in the boldfaced text refers to the narrator and the person who they are thinking about at the time (referred to as 'you' in the previous sentence "I couldn’t see you on the crowded dance floor." It is unclear to me from the quoted passage exactly who that person is).

The narrator wishes that they could dance with that person just like the other couples were doing in that moment.


If I understand the sentence "he went to the birthday party (...) with his lover Janusz" correctly, it means Ludwik and Janusz are lovers.

With this in context, the "you" in "I couldn’t see you on the crowded dance floor" refers to Ludwik hoping to catch a glimpse of Janusz on the dance floor, and "I wished it could be us out there" refers to Ludwik wishing that it could be him and Janusz who were the ones out there dancing together.

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