Whirl About Town, Wile Days Away

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I felt so certain at 28. It felt like that entire year was the first exhale of my life and all the previous years had been one giant inhale. I felt the relief of settling into my late twenties. There was a softening. A certainty of the things that made me happy. I crafted a life the best way I knew how at the time. Piecing together all the unintentional decisions of my early twenties, the missteps, the hard work, the anxiety, the joy. Tossed together and mixed with new passions. I accepted a low-stress job (no practicing tax law, no clients, just writing), danced constantly, and made time for new relationships. When the weather was warm I ate lunch outside (usually a mango and a pepper, biting right into both) while dipping my toes in the neighborhood fountain outside my office. I regularly visited the library and racked up fines that I think single-handedly fund the Arlington Public Library.  I learned to cook lots of new vegetarian dishes (okay, mostly just salads with roasted vegetables). It was easy street, and I felt at ease finally enjoying my life.

But lately I’ve lost that a bit. I’m 29 now and feel less sure of myself. Like I should be more ambitious. The jury is still out on whether this is a result of DC/American culture (I feel guilt for being happy sometimes?) or if I really do need to resolve this feeling that I have (the need to be challenged in some way?). I suspect this spiral started with a Bumble date with a guy that started his own coffee shop(s)/company. To sit across the table from someone whose life had taken such shape. Someone that had built something doing what they loved. To stare at it. And then hold my life in my hands. What I’d built. And while it’s good and fine and I’m thankful and content for the most part. It made me realize that maybe some things are missing. That maybe I should reach for more, search for more. And I think the fact that I have this feeling at all is reason enough to explore it.

And if the answer to this question/feeling was in my head then perhaps I would be living differently. Figuring things out wouldn’t even be an issue. But it’s not there and I don’t know what to do next. But I do know that the only way to be certain of what you like is to try a lot of things. Right? And while I think whirling about town and moving from interest to that interest may not be the best way to live a life (I really think there is merit in sticking to one thing and choosing it and loving it despite bad days, etc., and I should probably just do that with dance sometimes I get distracted and bored but really I haven’t found anything that makes me happier than dancing oh no this is turning into stream of consciousness, I digress), I think it’s what I need right now.

So I am going to try to try 30 new things before I turn 30 (in roughly 20 weeks).* First five up:

  1. Learning about plants at Rewild DC. Taking my first class on Saturday about trimming and propagating pothos (supposedly a very undemanding plant – baby steps!).
  2. Learning about tea with MeiMei Fine Teas in Fairfax, VA. I e-mailed the owner about a tea associate/apprentice position.
  3. First pilates class at Pilates ProWorks (this will also help my hips!).
  4. First official heels class at Cerdafied Studios.
  5. Hand embroidery at Stitch Sew Shop.

(I think #6 is going to be to organize a dance event for the Alzheimer’s Association)

I’ll post updates for each one here and try to write more about dancing. I journal about dancing a lot, but I haven’t taken the time to compile my random thoughts into something coherent that can be turned into a blog post. I’ll work on that though.

P.S. I was trying to decide whether “wile away” or “while away” was correct. So I Googled, of course, and came across one answer here that I loved (“the double entendre of ‘wile’ is tempting. One may ‘wile away time’ in a fashion whereby one ‘tricks’ time to pass quickly, or, to make time pass slowly – like to draw out a moment of lovemaking to feel like an hour of pleasure.”). I once read that if you want time to slow down, you should do a lot of different things (“time lengthens in the presence of novelty” – thus, wiling time away? making it feel as if it is passing slowly?). I need to massage this thought out, but I think I’m on to something here. Here’s to the rest of 29. I shall whirl about town wiling my days away. 

xoxo for now

*I reserve the right to fully abandon this if I find something worth sticking to.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Prillaman Photography 

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On Hugs

7D451184-7D7C-4525-B234-01C2A72E2D7EI didn’t learn to properly hug until I was 28 years old. Before this year I was what you might call a chronic butt-out, back-patting “hugger.” The kind that would shoot my backside to the opposite end of the room and sprinkle in a few light pats on the back – lest any intimacy be created between me and the person I was “hugging.”

All of that began to change when I fell in love with a partner dance called Brazilian zouk. Brazilian zouk is essentially a variation of Brazilian lambda danced to music from the French Caribbean called zouk. And it’s really not made for shy people. Or people that mind sweaty strangers. Or people that have any concept of personal space.

Lucky for me, my interest in zouk coincided with an individual visiting DC from Rio de Janerio named Gui, whose workshops included titles such as The Universe Behind the Hug. Having Gui as a teacher is what changed everything for me.

The first series that I took with Gui focused on close embrace. Classes were held every Wednesday night in the basement of a church in DuPont Circle. Each week we explored concepts related to dancing in close embrace.

“When I first came to the US and saw people dancing zouk, they were dancing this . . . . . far . . . apart. And I thought no, no, no. That’s sad.” I recall him saying in one of the early classes.

Most nights we would do what Gui sometimes referred to as “the ritual.” The ritual involved a sort of reaching past each other before settling down into a hug and dancing.

One night Gui demonstrated that there should be as many points of contact as possible between you and the person you are dancing with. Cheeks. Chests. Hips. Thighs. Calves. All. Touching. Space creates room for misunderstanding, as I would learn, which was an unfortunate piece of information to find out as someone who harbored a fear of being felt.

The class became both my favorite and least favorite thing about the week. Every week I would have so much anxiety building up to the class. I would worry about being felt by another person. I would worry about having to be vulnerable. During class, I would be dancing with someone and then slowly the self-conscious thoughts would start to creep in: I wonder how I feel compared to other women. Am I making him uncomfortable? I bet he thinks I’m awkward. Will anyone ever want to social dance with me?

But every week I struggled through the class.  As the weeks went by, I became less anxious. I can’t remember the exact moment that it happened, when I realized that my goals were not divergent from the leads I was dancing with. When I realized that our end goals were the same – to dance with each other, be there for each other, to find connection in a world of increasing isolation. No hiding from each other.

My fear of hugging, of feeling connected with another person, really stemmed from a fear of rejection. From a fear of judgment. Each week I worked on letting all of that fear go. I worked on surrender. I worked on being okay with being myself. Because the only way to be truly connected, in life as well as in dance, is to be vulnerable.

I wanted to be fully in the dance with another person. Therefore, I had to be fully myself.

Nowadays I can’t even go more than two days without dancing and hugging both strangers and friends.  I still struggle, but I’m less scared now. Less scared of being felt, of being judged. By learning how to embrace other people, I have finally learned how to embrace myself. 

Photo Credit: Jennifer Prillaman Photography