Dancing is when you tear your heart out and rise out of your body to hang suspended between the worlds. ~ Rumi
People who know me well know I dance wherever I go. Because I’m always shaking and shimmying, people think I’m showing off. I’ve been accused of wanting attention.
The truth is I can’t hold still.
Dancing is my oldest coping mechanism. Before there was art or writing, there was dance.
These days, I dance at the gym. All the time.
I can’t help it. Whether I’m in the dance studio, the weight room, or the treadmill, I simply have to move.
Dancing is who I am.
(I may have forgotten about my body for a while, but I’m back in it now. Full force.)
Yesterday, I was talking to a trainer at the gym who told me I exude “amazing positive energy.” He said I appear confident and happy and like I have it all together. Even on Facebook, he said.
“If that’s true,” I said, “how come no one talks to me? Or asks me out?”
“You’re intimidating,” he said.
It’s a terrible irony. Stunning really.
To fill myself up, I dance…but because I feel comfortable in my body, I end up isolated because people see me as unapproachable. Intimidating.
It’s a weird kind of “splitting.” The world does not see me as I truly am. They don’t see me as insecure, or wounded. The world doesn’t see how I’ve been hurt. It’s invisible. It’s always been like this, and I think it’s why I often feel so misunderstood.
As a kid, many of my teachers had low expectations for me. My intellect was neither valued nor appreciated. But I‘m not stupid. I’m smart and ambitious. I have aspirations, and I continue to move in the direction of my dreams.
Learning about the way I am perceived helps me realize I have to work hard to be seen and heard. I suppose this means I’ll spend the rest of my life swirling in circles, squawking out my desires & scribbling out my words in hopes of being better understood.
For as long as I can remember, my father has sent me a birthday limerick. These poems are never naughty (because that would be creepy), but they definitely rhyme – and I always get a kick out of them.
My father’s birthday falls just a few weeks after mine.
This year I’ve decided I’m tired of giving him pajamas.
This year I’m feeling more creative.
So I’m giving him a dance.
(Not that kind of dance. That would be creepy.)
Let me explain.
Growing up, I remember my father singing two songs. The first is called “A Song of Safety.” Actually, I don’t know what the song is called. That’s just what I call it. Somebody must’ve created a public service announcement for children back in the day to make sure they weren’t crushed by cars. You know, “Always use the crosswalk and look from left to right” that kind of stuff. Because my father used to sing this wacky song me, I know all the words in the first stanza. I don’t even know if there is a second stanza.
Anyhoo, I scoured the Internet in an effort to find this song, but absolutely nothing came up.
And we all know if it’s not on the Internet, it isn’t real.
The second song I remember my father singing to is the one I’m featuring today.
Happy B’day, Dad.
Hope you enjoy the song and my dance of appreciation and adoration.
And my big ole mane of hair.
What are some of your favorite birthday traditions?
Last Thursday afternoon, my husband took Monkey to a fencing tournament in Arlington, Virginia. While they were at The Capitol Clash, I spent hours working on my book. I didn’t eat or watch television; I simply wrote. And it was fabulous.
But by Friday late afternoon, I got antsy and started thinking it would be kind of a good idea to get out of bed and move my body a little bit, maybe go dancing. For the record, the last time I went clubbing was when I lived in New Orleans back in the 1990’s, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that there is, in fact, a joint less than five miles from my home where I could actually get down and get funky.
So I started asking (and by asking, I mean begging) friends to go dancing with me that night. After hours of foolishness spent on Facebook (and the phone), I realized that there was simply no one willing or able to go with me. My first rejection came when my bestie sighed and said that, while she loved me, she was going to have to let me down. This was followed by a handful of other friends who felt compelled to tell me everything they were doing with their children that night that prevented them from going dancing with me. As the hours passed, my beloved neighbor emailed to let me know she was already in her jammies while another buddy reminded me of her back injury. Finally, at 9pm my pal Lisa said if she hadn’t blown out her knee she would have totally gone with me.
“Really? I asked.
“No, not really,” she giggled, “That place is gross.”
Even my gay friends declined.
Dejected, I crawled back into bed and wrote prolifically until just after midnight, at which point I flipped off my light. As I lay there in bed, I thought to myself: Why didn’t I just go alone? What was there to be afraid of? I didn’t need an entourage. I wasn’t going out to get laid. I just wanted to shake my groove thing a little. Snuggling into my comforter, I decided that I would go the next night.
At 9:30pm Saturday night, I gussied myself up (and by “gussying myself up,” I mean I put on a pair of clean jeans and a black short-sleeve t-shirt) and headed over to Taylor’s Nightclub and Bistro – which, by the way, is a total misnomer. Taylor’s is no “bistro.” When I think “bistro,” I conjure up a small, informal restaurant that serves wine – usually found in France. Let’s be clear: Taylor’s is a dive. No one is serving bread or wine or olives at Taylor’s. Which, by the way, was fine. All I wanted to do was shake my groove thing.
A blustery Saturday night with about four inches of fresh, slippery snow on the roads, I was surprised to see that the place was, in fact, packed. One dance floor featured an eclectic (read: skanky) mix of women wearing really short dresses and really tall heels doing a lot of bumping and grinding. Sure, there were men on the prowl, but they were harmless enough. There was even a cluster of older moms, laughing and enjoying a night out together.
I made my way to dance floor number two where a disco ball turned and strobe lights flashed. It was much less crowded. The DJ played hits from the 70s and 80s on a warped turn-table. Much more my speed.
I warmed up to “White Lines” and “Cold Hearted Snake” when (gasp) Janet Jackson’s “Pleasure Principle” came on. Sidebar: You have to understand that in 1989, I memorized every single move in that video and I still remember most of the sequences, so I started going full force. It all came back to me. My God, I thought, I am even wearing the black shirt and jeans. (Note: there were no chairs or microphones to topple or throw, so I had to improvise during those parts, and while it was tempting, I did not tie my shirt into a front knot.)
Anyway, near the end of the song, Janet starts throwing her head around and striking these tight popping poses, so I dug deep into my old repertoire and tried to recreate my old moves.
Keep in mind that I had not had one single drink.
Not even a gingle ale.
But suddenly the room started to tip, and I started to topple. You know when you have put too many towels in your washing machine and it starts making that kachung-kachung-kachung sound and you know things are unbalanced, and then you have to go in the laundry room and move things around so that things run smoothly again? Well, it was like that.
Except I was alone in a bar, so when I grabbed the wall for support, I am sure I looked mad drunk.
And the sensation wouldn’t go away.
The DJ actually announced something like: “If you’ve been drinking, for everyone’s safety, please stay off the dance floor.”
I am pretty sure he was talking to me.
And then, I felt a vibration in my back pocket. Retrieving my phone, I saw that it was my husband, texting to say the airplane had landed. I had to get them at the airport, but I was in no condition to drive. I grabbed my coat, prayed the cold night air would make me feel better, and staggered out into the snow (and by staggered, I mean I zigzagged across the parking lot). If a police office saw me, he would definitely have demanded I take a Breathalyzer. It was embarrassing.
Once in my car, I waited for the weird swirling feeling to stop completely (which it did, thank goodness), and, as I drove to the airport to pick up my family, this twit had a sad epiphany: At forty-sumthin-sunthin years old, I can no longer channel my inner Janet Jackson.
From here on out, as Billy Idol once sang, I’ll be “Dancin’ With Myself.”
Probably in my own living room.
Anybody else miss being in their 20s, even once in a while?
(If you’ve never seen “The Pleasure Principle,” please enjoy Janet’s moves from 1989. Just imagine my face on her body.) 😉
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