Today I woke up smiling because I was in my room, a place of my own. I haven’t had that comforting feeling for over a year. I seriously sat up and just stared at everything for a while. I thought of a quote from one of my favorite books, “How rewarding it was to discover the absolute conviction that I had at last arrived where I was supposed to be…I was deliriously happy, I could have walked barefoot over hot coals.” It’s true, if hot coals were on my floor I would have danced all over them.
I spent most of the day in my room, reading and writing and talking on the phone and listening to music. I could’ve gone to Starbucks, but why? I have a crush on my room and I don’t want to ever leave. Call it infatuation if you will.
But I did leave, only because I had a date with my first true love: dance.
I spent nine years in leotards and tights and ballet slippers – from the age of 9 to 18. It was my art, my love. While everyone else my age was playing sports or sleeping in on Saturday mornings, I was dancing. I read books about dance, I wrote poems about dance, I lived to dance. If my parents had to punish me, they would make me skip dance class. And I would cry and cry and cry. This was like, in high school, lol.
After dance performances I would watch the videotapes and take mental notes on how to improve my skills. When I came home from dance class I would lift my leg up on the railing and do stretches. I was obsessed.
I thought about majoring in dance when I went to college, but came to the conclusion that even though I loved to dance, it wasn’t the only thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I packed up my tutus and pointe shoes and left them in the basement.
Things may have ended between me and dance, but, like any first love, I don’t think I’ll ever get over dance entirely. Sometimes I wonder why we didn’t work out, and what if I had done things differently? My heart still skips a beat whenever I see or hear anything that involves dancing. I’m jealous of my old dance friends who are still dancing, but then I remind myself that I’ve done and seen and experienced other things that I would never take back.
So, since I’m going to be in Columbus for a little while I decided to take a dance class again. It’s been six years, and I’m no good anymore, but I don’t care. If I have the chance to dance, I’m going to take it.
I went down into the basement and moved a bunch of bins until I found my old dance attire. My breath caught in my chest as I lifted the lid and saw all my shoes – pointe shoes and ballet shoes and jazz shoes and lyrical shoes and hip hop shoes – all faintly emitting the smell of old sweat. I loved it. I grabbed my ballet shoes and slid them on – they were worn and torn and I wondered if they would still fit. They did. I walked around in them all afternoon. My feet were made to point.
All day I felt giddy, like I was going on a date with a boy. I wondered what I would wear and how I should do my hair – ponytail or messy bun? I wondered if it would be awkward. I got ready way too early. When I was driving there I was sick with nerves and excitement.
Even though I knew I wasn’t any good at dancing anymore, I still had a faint hope that I would be awesome. I wasn’t. I could barely lift my leg and I got dizzy when I turned. The little girls who were half my age kicked my butt. The thing is, I don’t really care. I used to dance for so many reasons: because I loved it, but also because I wanted to be on stage, I wanted the solo, I wanted to be in front, I wanted to be known for being a good dancer. Now, though, I’m dancing only because I love it.
It felt so good to move my body again, to roll around on the floor while stretching, to learn a combination and put it to music, to glance in the mirror and correct myself or think, “that actually looks pretty good.”
I believe every human is an artist, but I also believe that few humans have tapped into that part of their being. It makes me sad, and I don’t want to be like that. The best times I danced were when I was passionate or pissed off about something, and the best times I write are when my heart is breaking from grief or exploding with beauty. Art is an expression of life, so what happens when people don’t express themselves? Their art is smothered, trapped within them and screaming to get out, but the more it is repressed the more it fades away. As Pablo Picasso once said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he (or she) grows up.”
When I’m not living as an artist, it’s because someone else is always better, or I’m scared, or lazy, or just too busy with commonplace activities. And when that happens (which is most of the time, to be honest) I sense I’m smothering something inside of me; I’m killing something that needs to be brought to life.
I know it sounds silly, but even writing these blogs makes me feel like I’m doing something to breathe life, to get these thoughts out of my head before they fade away. That’s why I don’t really care if people read my entries or leave comments (though comments are nice! and welcome.) At the same time, I know that I should be pushing myself as a writer, that I should be creating stories and essays and maybe even a book, hah.
I’m getting there. I hope to start incorporating daily writing disciplines in my life. And I’m taking a dance class. And when I’m not doing those things, I’m in my lovely room, consuming other people’s art, which inevitably inspires me to pick up a pen or point my toe. Anything is possible, I just have to believe it.
“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything.” -Pablo Picasso