Thursday, April 30, 2009

as if there were another air to breathe

Hard to believe it was only January when I dug those hideously old-fashioned dance shoes* out from under my bed, dusted them off and signed up for Basic Argentine Tango section one. I'm never sure what to expect from my more whimsical decisions, but here I am on the cusp of May and I cannot imagine myself months ago.

The shoes have improved since then. But more importantly, so have I. Not just as a dancer (I know I'm just as green as I ever was), but as a woman. It's terrifying, really, this change, because my priorities are shifting like glaciers. I want to trust these new instincts, but they pour some dangerous Kool Aid. Suddenly I don't want to be here anymore, slumping through day jobs, guilty of every spare hour passed and every audition opportunity wasted, shelling out too much to keep my head above water and waiting for that safe full of money to fall on my head (read: an acting career). I want to act. I've always wanted that. When I am on stage I cease to exist; I love the feeling of breathing through someone else's lungs, stretching someone else's limbs, but I have always lacked the drive. Not the drive to do it, the drive to pursue it. Self-promotion is a skill I lack to begin with and the cultivation of it is far too daunting. I am missing the drive to push. To pimp around for contacts and back-doors, to try to "know" people and file them in my inbox until I can tap them for favors. It's a table game in a big, sinister casino and with every drink to steel my insides, I just get more and more tired. I realize too late my lack of equipment.

If talent were rendered irrelevant, I would never succeed.

Most days I crumble under that weight, but now I am possessed of a sureness, a calm, in the face of my own nemesis. Failure is irrelevant. That is the new charm I wear under my skin.

It has to be tango—the undefined variable in the double-blind trial—that makes me want to rip my roots from the ground and get on a train, a plane, a boat. It makes me want to set my life up somewhere clean among white linens and books and trees, somewhere I'd rather be. It makes me want to study, to travel, to write, and stop trying to stuff myself into the square peg.

It is making me fearless. What can I lose that I wouldn't readily give up?

Example, Tuesday night I was sick, sagging on my feet. I should have gone home to soup and bed, but I stayed out a little too late at a very dead milonga because it was so much more important than work the next day. For those minutes on the dance floor, which may have been minutes and may have been hours, I don't remember breathing. As if there had been no need.

The high of being nothing but your own feet, someone else's arms and the beat of the bandoneon, it's unparalleled. On stage you lose the connection to your own body; you can look down at your hands and hardly recognize them. In tango you lose yourself by degrees, yet nothing steps in from the wings to fill the void; your body stays your own, only empty. It's the inexplicable freedom of being simultaneously tied—glued, chained—to someone's frame and absolutely alone. To be moving only as he moves, but not to know who began the movement.

Someday this will no longer be a surprise. The state will not be severed by my missteps or mistakes. I will not slip out of it by losing my axis. I can hardly wait for the day I can stop thinking entirely, stop having to remind myself to shift my weight, to follow his chest, to take even steps, to stay straight, to be light. But of course the shock itself of those rare moments alighting is almost enough—in these embryonic stages—to make me chuck everything to chase another ludicrous dream. What the hell am I going to do when I get good at this?**

All I know is I've lost track of what I want—unless wanting is to drift.

I look at the bones of pirates past, littered across the trail before me—in each impossible direction—and do not doubt that I will fare any differently. But wouldn't you rather die that way, starving and wearily searching for X, than work your whole life at a job you merely tolerate, stashing minor ducats into a 401K that one day just disappears? I could have played it safe. I didn't. Not only is it likely to be too late for me to change course, I'm not sure I could. The point being, I don't care. Right now it's enough to be alive.

*an impulse purchase from my teenage spree in BsAs, what I imagine a nun would wear to the rectory Halloween party if she were dressed as a witch.

** IF...and that's a big if...I get good at this.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

love that dirty water

Yesterday was Opening Day. Or rather, yesterday the Sox played a forty degree make-up game against the sons-of-bitches Devil Rays (and, yes, I will continue to call them that until they rename the fish itself, because those rabid born-again Florida yahoos can kiss my lily-white Irish ***).

Opening Day is like a second Christmas every April. Uniforms are brand new, swings have been doctored, injuries have been healed, and even though there are 161 games left and millions of mountainous hurdles to clear, the whole season is ahead.

Teddy Kennedy threw the first pitch and Tito escorted him out to the mound. Vtek shut down the unfaithful naysayers with his solo homer, Beckett had his stuff back, and Pedroia, well, he was Pedroia (and he almost knocked Big Papi down with his overenthusiastic fist pound). We looked good and we played well and we won. But even if we hadn't, I'd still be excited. Because it's the love of the game. The game that will get you through the next six months.

I'm also quite pleased to pledge my allegience to a team with one of the last real baseball stadiums in the country—not one of these fancy bullshit corporate pavilions with waterfalls and martini bars. Which reminds me that talking smack is just as much the beloved American pastime as following the games themselves, and without certain friendships, none of this would be as much fun. You know who you are, Yankee fan.

It's a real good feeling to root for the Sox. Even when they lose for 86 year running, they never quite let you down...

To quote Fever Pitch, "They're here. Every April, they're here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don't get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that's here for you."