Apr 272015
 

I remember being single. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was nearly twenty-two years old, which I was pretty sure constituted “ancient.” Until then, I didn’t have many friends, either, so there was a lot of lonely time spent in those few years. I would go on dates with boys and then (I’ve never been sure why) they would feel the need to tell me that they weren’t interested in an actual relationship with me but hey, did I want to go out this weekend? I was in college, which was the freest I’ve ever been. I could go out whenever I wanted, walk wherever my legs could take me, spend all of my time reading if I wanted, learn about whatever I could get my hands on and all I could think about was the one thing I didn’t have.

I was so sad then because I knew that most people have had at least one boyfriend by the time they’re twenty-two but I find that it doesn’t matter at all now. In fact, I’m glad I saved all of that love for just one person.

We didn’t get to see the whales. There are 40,000 of them somewhere in that big ocean and, even though we climbed on board a sailboat and squinted for two and a half hours, there were no splashes, no tails, no shiny great backs rising from the water. No whales today.

Our friend the tour guide/bartender feigned disappointment even though he’s probably seen enough whales to fill a lifetime, and I said, “Well, but it’s a nice ride, anyway,” trying to be cheerful.

But we tried again the next day with our free return tickets and watched the boat pull away from the dock as we ran across the parking lot. But, instead of watching whales, my sweet aunt and I took the kids to the playground in the rain and they played on the back of an enormous plastic whale and played in their pretend houses and made us eat pretend food.

I sat down at my computer just now, hoping to write something that I could be proud of. And now here we are. I haven’t posted on my blog in ages but I’ve been writing a lot. It’s just that I don’t think any of it is much good and I don’t want to publish something that I don’t even like. So the plan today was to write (and finish) something…

I wrote that last line a week ago. Obviously, my plan fell through just a little bit but I do know that, in that week, I’ve spent a lot of fun time with my kids and I’ve made (and eaten) a lot of good food and worked on big projects. It’s probably good to have plans to give me a direction and an idea of where I’d like to eventually go, but it’s the “eventually” that is where the fun lies. Sure, it’s aggravating to see that plan/dream/goal get further and further away from me as I walk along the path but maybe that means I just need to look down and around a little more because, if I’m always looking dead ahead, who knows what I’ll miss along the way?

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Feb 182015
 

We stand in front of the wall of mirrors and do “leap, cut, cut, cut, leap, cut, cut, cut…” until we can’t feel our legs anymore. And then he tells us, “I didn’t really want to see what your legs could do, but I wanted to see what your arms would do when you got tired.”

This is Irish dance and, in Irish dance, you stand straight and tall, your arms hang down at your sides with your hands in a loose fist, with the “cinnamon roll” part facing forward. He says, “When you get tired, your shoulders slump and I start to see the fronts of your hands. This is a posture of defeat. After every performance, people say that my sister is the best dancer up there. You know what? She is not the best dancer up there but she stands tall and her shoulders never slump, so she looks like the best dancer up there.”

I change into my hard shoes (what people typically think of with Irish dance) and we practice a dance we’ve been learning for the last eight months. It’s one of those things that I think is getting worse the more I practice it. I started out with great timing and nice, loud shuffles and I was able to click my heels and the more we do this dance, the sloppier my feet want to be. I have to work harder to make them do the right things. The teacher assures me that my feet now know what they’re doing but it’s my top half that isn’t confident.

So I watch myself dance in the mirror and notice that my toes are always turned out (good), my legs are bent just enough (good), there is no daylight between them (good), and I never forget a step (good). Then my eyes move up and there they are: those slumped shoulders. Surprise, surprise—after three and a half hours of dancing, I am tired. I am beaten. What I’d really like to do is sit my backside down on the floor and not get up again and it shows.

But I can’t think about that now. This is my marathon, the last mile. This is the moment where I will run through that finish line with my shoulders thrown back and my arms raised up high (figuratively; this is, after all, Irish dance). So I pretend there’s a board up my back and pretend that I have the confidence and strength to finish. What is it they say? “Fake it til you make it.” Confidence has never come easily (or, let’s face it, it’s probably never come at all) for me but maybe if I stand there, not accepting the posture of defeat, my preparation and effort will make them and me say, “She is the best dancer up there.”