I wanna dance with somebody (who loves me)

…but, mostly, I just want to dance.

Let me back up for a moment.

If you know me, you know that I used to dance. And by that I mean I was in every after-school program I could be in, and I sneaked around to attend every rehearsal and talent show and competition I possibly could… but I never did join a company or try to pursue it very seriously. I was afraid of what would happen if I exposed myself to that much criticism–and I was afraid of wanting something so much. So when I left high school, I put dance on the back burner and only ever turned up the heat at a club or the occasional Zumba class.

And then, well. I became obsessed with this little Australian TV show called Dance Academy, devouring episodes while I did other things and sometimes leaving everything aside so I could watch. And, often, watching the show would make me twirl around my apartment for a little bit… and then I’d grow embarrassed of my large body even though the blinds were closed and only the cat could see me. I’d remember the gorgeous figures of the young dancers on the show and remember why I didn’t end up trying harder to dance–even when I was much lighter, I didn’t have an ideal dance body.

But last night was different. You see, the eight-and-a-half (and counting!) weeks of hell came to a point yesterday, and I had one of those awful and unexpected “I am worthless at everything ever and also no one loves me” breakdowns that depression manages to hit you with. And after crying entirely too much over poor work wife Karen, I ended up coming home and lying in bed listlessly, with the Dance Academy Amazon Prime watchlist playing in a comforting loop. After a couple hours of the sighing and crying, I got up and took an experimental pirouette on my carpet… and when I sat down in bed again I realized I had been dancing for two straight hours with the most ridiculous mix of music and that, for the first time in almost nine weeks, I truly felt good.

I’d forgotten how capable my body is, despite how badly I’ve treated it–especially when it comes to dancing. Now that I’ve spent approximately 4 hours stress!dancing around my apartment over the past one and a half days, I’ve realized how much I missed the sweet ache in my muscles after a good dance session. I rediscovered how I can glide through choreography, learned or invented, as if a swimmer slicing through water during a race. I remembered that dancing feels like flying and it’s perfect for someone who’s afraid of heights. And, oddly enough, I remembered what it feels like to be me, with no frills but also no angry voice in my head.

And so when I sat back down last night, I realized that all I wanted was to keep dancing. And, even though it was entirely too late to stay awake, I researched open classes at dance studios around the city and settled on the Joffrey Academy. I added the classes I want to my calendar and placed an order for some leotards and tights and dance shoes. I menu-planned and workout-scheduled for next week, and the one after that, and the week of my birthday.

This time, the fitness goal isn’t about “getting skinny” or “looking better” or some bullshit platitude about “feeling healthier” or whatever–it’s about being able to dance more. It’s about carving space in my life and on my body to glide across the (dance) floor with grace and joy. It’s about letting my heart soar and smile again. It’s about remembering who I was when I was younger, and less hurt, and less afraid. And it’s about hanging on to that brave, creative, dancing girl and setting her bright flame loose on the darkest, dreariest of days.

Maybe then, as I struggle with work no longer sustaining me, I will still have a way to lighten the burden of those heavy days so there is more joy in my life to recharge my batteries.

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