I have this wonderful little hobby in which I recreate vintage dances with a number of like-minded individuals. Here I am:
As you can see, my hobby affords me many lovely dresses. It’s part of its charm.
There’s a part of me that is uncomfortable putting pictures of myself up on this blog, which is otherwise relatively anonymous. However, I’m also confident, dear reader, that if we were to encounter each other on the street tomorrow, you would likely not recognize me from these photographs. One time (I love telling this story, by the way) I was attending a dance week in Rhode Island. The way these dance weeks work is that you take classes during the day, and then attend costumed events in the evenings, each evening focussing on a different era. The first night of this particular event, if memory serves, had an old Hollywood theme – I think we were watching a silent movie about dance. As it turns out, this era is kind of my jam. I did up my hair, put on some bright red lipstick, the whole shebang. The next morning, I showed up to class in my sweats. One of the ladies walked up to me, gave me a pointed up-and-down, and said, “I guess it really was all smoke and mirrors, wasn’t it?” I’m not sure where she was going with the statement – I’m inclined to think nowhere kind – but honest to God, it’s the truth. It really is all smoke and mirrors. That’s why I do it.
All this is to say, I view this blog as somewhat separate from my everyday life. This dancing business is a big part of my everyday life. And let’s face it – what’s the point of having a blog about my everyday life when, literally, I live it every day? I guess I gaze at my navel as much as the next person, but, I flatter myself, I’m not over-zealous about it.
Still, if I’m being honest, this blog is also growing from a feeling that things are changing, that maybe my everyday life can’t continue to be as it once was. Maybe I need to find a new hobby, I wonder, a wordy hobby, a cerebral one, rather than a physical one. So in that way, my blogging is inextricably bound to the other me, the more public me, whether I want it to be or not.
Because my body is aging, as all bodies age, and as it does so, my place in my world alters, and perhaps diminishes. Women, I notice, disappear as they get older. Invisibility is an undesirable attribute for a performer. Sill, I am not in the business of trying to freeze my face or my waistline at the place that would have looked familiar to the me of twenty years ago. What’s the point? Time moves, and so do I, a deep and irrevocable ebbing towards the setting sun. It’s its own dance, in its fashion. I know my part in it.
The aging of the externals, however, has nothing on the aging internal structures of my body, which are easily the crueler slight. Joints and connective tissues have a lifespan all their own, seemingly disconnected from the rest of the organism, certainly disconnected from the workings of the brain, which hums and thumps callously from its distant throne. It takes awhile for the message to reach it, I suppose. My brain still believes, deep inside its many neural pathways, that if it orders the body to jump, the body will jump, and if it orders it to fly, the body will thrillingly soar, and when it crashes down, as it must, the body will absorb the fall, and reassemble, and say no more about it. The body, of course, has a very different story to tell, of tears and sprains and imperfect recuperations, ankles that are weaker the second time, tendons that stiffen and rip, knee cartilage that breaks down irreparably, a back that hardens and aches. Things creak and groan beneath my skin, talking to me with every movement of the irrevocable passage of time.
I find all this change makes me sad. Somedays, I feel like I can see the end of the road for my little passion, and it is a lot closer than I would like it to be. There’s a foot injury, then a knee injury, then a hip injury. The deterioration of the leg feels like a metaphor, and maybe a sign. There’s my age, my increasing invisibility, the waning of my worth weighing against me. The scales hover and wobble, the enjoyment sitting in the balance of the chronic pain and diminishment. Is it enough to carry me forward? I don’t know. My dancing is a labor of love and a lifelong affair. Perhaps it is ending. Many love affairs do. Because I have to wonder: will I still love it if I can’t leap, and lift, and fly, if I can’t, as a performer, see and be seen, if I reach the point where I only ever have the memory of the thing but not the experience of it, if, on the balance, I can accept becoming a shadow of my younger self?
I guess the question remains, when is enough enough? If I figure it out, dear reader, you’ll be the first to know.