Returning to an old love at 35.

My calves ache. Each time I lean forward, a burning sensation tunnels up from my ankle. The small muscles above my knees throb when I bend to pick up a book. My inner thighs feel like they felt after the first time I tried to do a split.

But my body doesn’t ache enough. You see, I can still walk and talk and laugh. I can empty the dishwasher painlessly. I can even car-dance, which is exactly what I did while driving home last night with Lady Gaga’s “Do What You Want” blasting from the minivan speakers.

My first two classes at Ballet Arts and Fitness brought back all the old love for ballet- for the way it impresses your body into the service of disciplined movement and measure. The way the sweat emerges- more like a sheen than a river- after barre. I’ve forgotten the technical names for the positions, and yet the flowering persists like an inarticulable memory in which I find myself moving without knowing exactly how this movement became so natural.

After ACL and MCL complete reconstruction in my right knee, after herniated discs and years in which even driving a car was impossible, being given the freedom to dance again is such a precious gift that I can’t bring myself to stop doing it. So I danced in parking lot of Target with The Eldest. And I danced in the front yard as Angie watched from inside the house. And I danced in the living room as the little folks joined me. And I danced in the bathroom as I pondered whether to take a bath.

Dancing is a language my body can speak. Unlike the lumbering gait of softball, those days when I stood anxiously in the outfield, hoping the ball would not come my way to find me tripping over anthills to catch it. I was never good at softball. My body didn’t do “home runs” or “good throws”. But whenever a melody wafted through the air, my mind grew silent while my body responded, beginning a conversation as unique and fascinating as the song itself.

To be able to dance is to be able able to speak, again. It is to be able to have those conversations with pieces and tunes. It is to lose my own voice while discovering the facile articulation of the arms, legs, hips, ankles, and shoulders. It is something Rainer Maria Rilke might have called “sublime”, if the taste for dance pulsed through his veins. It is a wonder and a mystery. And it is the place where I always find the missing pieces to the parts of the day that went awry. I am so very grateful…..

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