Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 @ 4:28 pm
I make myself a gin and tonic and put on music and warm up in my apartment. As I begin to dance, the heavy emotions begin to soften. A crack in the wall of shame, of self-doubt, and a sharp beam of light bursts forth from my heart.
I arrive at my first lesson and walk into the hall and smile at the instructor. He smiles back and waves slightly, and the way that he looks at me feels affectionate and kind. I like him, and I can tell that he likes me. Music is playing, and I change into my dance shoes and then step onto the wooden floor.
In the lesson we practice swing outs. Over and over, we practice. Three swing outs and a circle, and then change partners. Building muscle memory. The leads are learning and half of the time it doesn’t work. They try all sorts of things to get me to swing out when they haven’t delivered the right amount of momentum, but I follow the advice of more seasoned dancers and follow whatever they lead and allow my body to be heavy, which shows them their mistakes, rather than anticipating and making corrections to have the move look correct.
After a few rotations, the instructor comes over to me and begins coaching each lead as they take turns with me. I think this may be because I am doing it right, or mostly right, and that the instructor can use me as an example when teaching a correction. He takes my hand and pulls me towards him, and I feel the heat of his body through his shirt, and he’s a stronger lead than I’ve experienced and it’s nearly overwhelming but I allow it to all happen.
Afterwards, the instructor comes over and apologizes for interrupting me so many times and tells me that I’m doing very well but to work on staying a bit more square to the lead.
Chris and I stay late and dance together on the empty dance floor. The students for the next class are arriving, and I can feel them watching us. We dance well together, fluid and connected and light. He smells good. I am smiling and adding in swivels all over the place, and he’s encouraging me and telling me that it looks great. He’s also a climber, and I wonder about how these two activities are related, as there are others that I’ve met with this unexpected combination of hobbies.
I leave the hall and run the three blocks to the other church for my second lesson. We again practice swing outs and swivels, and I’m not intimidated at all and I begin to realize that the others in this class are not all that far ahead of me. My fear and feeling of incompetence was a fabrication of my mind: self-doubt appearing, trying to protect me from shame.
I realize at some point that the heavy sadness, the grief is gone. I am happy. My life is full. I’m better off than I was a year ago, and by no small margin. I have community and experience abundant love.
At the social dance, the leads try new things with me, correlating swivels with experience. I love the challenge. I find the leads coming up quickly between songs to ask me to dance, which was the opposite of what happened when I first started coming to the dances. Perseverance. Persistence. On the other side of something difficult is something beautiful, if only you can bear the process of pushing through the birth canal.
Russell drives me home, and we talk about the dance, sitting on the couch, drinking whiskey.
I lean over to kiss him, and he reaches down and slowly unbuttons the front of my dress, kissing me, pressing against me with desire. We make love on the couch, and I never want it to end because it feels so good. The way that he touches me, the small noises that he makes when it feels nice. It was never like this before, with anyone. It was never this generous, this satiating, this erotic. I never allowed it to happen this way.
One year ago, he abandoned me on the ski hill in the dark, and in that moment I began to systematically dismantle my life. Twelve months later, the construction of my new life is well underway, and tomorrow I will be skiing in the sunshine with a partner who travels beside me and is compassionate, loving, and kind.