Friday, October 03, 2014

Return to Ballroom

What I've found is that the things I missed the most have been the hardest to return home to.

I missed ballroom more than I had words to express this past year.

Returning to ballroom has been hard.

It's never just ballroom.

My friend Mel said this to me. It's never just ballroom. It's the rest of life. And ballroom. It's ballroom. And the rest of life.

Coming back. I'm doing a lot of "coming back" right now, though it feels like that part should be more concluded than it is. I still cry a lot, the symptom I had early in Bulgaria and that, honestly, lasted long into the year. I cry far more often than I used to, used to being in the years after college. Tears come to me over small and large things, the lovely and the heart breaking.

When you leave a physical activity for a year, the body adjusts to living without it. The muscles forget things.

The mind less so. I know all the things I should be doing. I remember what it should feel like and I can't seem to force my way into dancing that way, the way I used to.

Before, it felt like I was on a constant progression "up", however slow. Now I am covering old territory and wondering when I lost the ground.

The biggest part of this is my fear of what people see in me. That they will know I'm supposed to be a TA, a good one. I have a reputation for being a good dancer. I've said this about myself even. People were excited that Robbie and I were going to be dancing together again too.

But it's slow. We haven't had the time we know we need to make it work. I haven't put in the physical training to make it work. My body didn't take kindly to American food and the stress and there is weight gain. There isn't money for the dress or new latin shoes. And, oddly, I feel the first year of age in my body, the first year I didn't look the odd paradox of young young and more grown up. So I look at students who started in the past year and who are dancing at a level well above me and I think Something is wrong with me.

It's taking more courage and head+heart work to return to the floor than I ever imagined. This weekend, I'm heading to Cornell for my first competition in 1.5 years. The practice hours have been few. I'll be ragged. Exposed. This is how I envision the weekend returning to the floor.

I'm scared of the shame.

There are lots of things I know. Like how I'm in a supportive place. That my dance partner is gracious to me and says that we don't have to compete at a certain level. That he extends a patience to a strained point (and he has a deep patience) at my emotional ups and downs, the way I quit during rounds, my tears, the physical inability and mental inability to push through. That people ultimately don't care at all how I dance and are way more interested in how they themselves will perform on the floor.

It's far more mental. And deeply spiritual.

I need a new story.

I've also realized that what I missed about ballroom included the people I loved, the music, the movement, the competitions, the space. But it was also me missing the person I was in those places. Coming back, a changed person (in ways I'm still discovering), I haven't walked back into the shoes of that confident, a little cocky, sweeping dancer that I loved being. She's gone. On the good days, I'm hoping for a deeper and more mature woman to be in these dance shoes, that my artist friend's idea that as Life grows us, our Art by extension must grow too. But I don't see her yet or the fear is blocking her or... well, it's October. I've only been home a few months. And these things take far more time than I've ever been willing to admit.

1 comment:

Annie said...

I'm praying for you, Dana! I had this fight with soccer when I played in college after not having played for three years. It didn't feel right and I wasn't as good and I felt - just like you say - exposed, because soccer was my thing and I was supposed to know what I was doing.

It takes time and effort and strength to pursue the knowledge of a thing twice over, and I know you know that. But I think what's critical about the journey is making the decision to keep on even though it's hard. And that's where the transformation happens: slowly, but someday we'll look back, see the vast change, and wonder how we never noticed before.