Moving Backwards

New job, new town, new life.

Why not a new exercise program?

Gold's Gym isn't an option in Lexington, so I open my browser and type in "Personal Trainer." My theory: if I pay extra to have someone hold me accountable, those extra inches that have refused to budge since the back-to-back surgeries might finally fall away.

The list gives me plenty of options, as I scan the search results, I notice, near the bottom, something that seems out of place. A dance studio. Intrigued, I click.

You'd never catch me watching "Dancing With the Stars" and I have no interest in mastering the tango. However, I've heard that dancing is a great way to burn calories; I am reminded that the most fun I've had at the gym is Zumba. Why not shake up one more thing in my life? Why not dance?

The next day, I hit the studio for my free lesson where I realize there's much more to "social" dancing than learning a few steps.

Aaron, my 6'6" grad student/philosopher/dance instructor puts his arm out to walk me to the dance floor. I clearly don't know what to do. He's confused that I'm confused. I've been dancing in a group of girlfriends for way too long. I can't recall if I have ever been escorted to a dance floor.

"I can't follow." I declare, "I over think everything and I have to know where I'm going." He laughs and tells me that he'll let me know where to go. I secretly know I will struggle because I like to make the choice. I like to think about the options. It pains me to write this because I am not a control freak, but, yes, I might even go so far as to say: I like to be in control of the path I take. Maybe this isn't such a good idea.

Or maybe it is exactly what I need.

Following is a challenge; but the part I'm having a really hard time doing is looking Aaron in the eye. Why is this so incredibly uncomfortable? Aaron academically explains the origins of the Rumba. My mind drifts over my relationships from friends and family, to co-workers and I realize I have had a very hard time looking anyone in the eye. Am I hiding something?

No. I simply can't stand the intimacy. Further self-inspection reveals this: I'm afraid someone will be able to see into my wounded soul and detect my broken heart that I so carefully mask with cheerful chatter. If I have to look people in the eye, I might very well crack. Perhaps this isn't a good idea.

Perhaps this exactly what I need.

"Stop looking at your feet!" My attention snaps back and I ask about his studies. This must have been a match made in heaven because who else could so easily distract me with a conversation about existentialism--something that truly engages my brain--while guiding me around the floor. I'm so enthralled in the conversation that with each step I feel less and less like a big clunky Frankenstein monster on the dance floor. Better still, I've stopped thinking so hard about which move comes next, that I am simply dancing.

Without having to agree, we move from the Waltz to the Rumba, add a few turns, and even a spin. Before I know it, almost an hour has passed and I've been moving backward the entire time. I even occasionally look him in the eye. Just not when he asks if I have a boyfriend.

As I walk into the parking lot I notice I'm standing taller. Further self inspection uncovers the fact that I feel as if I'm moving just a bit more gracefully. My calves feel stressed but I feel calm. At peace. Cheerful.

So many things in my life have been so insanely out of control that perhaps I've reigned in too much. What if I have overdeveloped my need to see the path ahead? This behavior could protect me from the type of surprises that so destructively derailed me in the past few years.

Do I still need this defense? Or am I ready to let go and enjoy letting someone else lead--even if only temporarily. Even if only for a dance.


Leslie said...

wow... your short stories always leave my mouth gaping and my heart warm. You are so brave, and always have been fearless, when you are free to be that cheerful, warm, magnet that I miss so much. Don't leave us hanging girl!

wendym said...

Of course, I whole heartedly agree - I think ever since last summer LH and I share a brain! You are so brave... and I admire you and your courage! Keep writing - we need our fix!!


my kids mom said...

So are you returning for more lessons? I loved taking ballet with you when we were in high school! Time to heal, girlfriend!