So here’s the thing about this All[sic] Bodies Dance Project i’ve been going to.
While there are many things about it i don’t connect with and/or that don’t reflect me. i pushed past that and went. And to be honest, i’m mortified to be there, to be moving around a room with these strangers, to be waving around, moving my body these ways, to call it dancing. It’s public, it’s open, there are floor-to-ceiling windows in the room through which passersby can -if they choose- watch, for a moment or the entire time as they make their way to other activities in the rec centre. It is terrifying, and embarrassing, and exposing, and physically daunting (even within the context of incredibly broad understandings of “movement”, where one person’s full body twirly thing can be another person’s finger bend, and just as beautiful and celebrated and understood).
And i fucking love it and can’t wait for the next class.
i’m not a dancer, in any context, and i’ve never moved my body -this incarnation of this body- the way i have in these classes. And i’ve sure as hell never moved these ways with others. i’ve navigated through tear-gassed demonstrations, busy downtown streets filled with suits, raucous concerts, malls of ambling unpredictable shoppers, buses, trains, darkened bath houses, fucked up sidewalks, pools, gimp porn shoot, grassy fields, you name it. While that all likely prepared me to be able to navigate this purely in the technical sense, it didn’t prepare me for navigating with these people. My people. [i just felt a wave of overwhelm writing those last words. wow.]
i’ve done a lot with my body, seen a lot, certainly have opinions about a lot, and i’ve struggled with and loved my body for a very very long time, including getting used to each change in its functioning. i’ve struggled (and still do) with feelings of shame, embarrassment, anxiety, fear, grief, of feeling un-attractive. And have worked hard to show and not-show parts of that [because holy fuck there is enough, there is just enough of that, and because im sick of the way able bodied people look at me with cartoon welling up pity eyes, grief eyes, embarrassed eyes, disgusted eyes; when i want to be looked at with joy, and lust, and curiosity eyes (not in THAT way, but in a you're-a-really-interesting-person-and-i'd-love-to-know-more-about-you way), and with the reality that my body is BOTH (and beyond) challenging and gorgeous.]
i’ve done a lot with my body. But i’ve never done this. Weaving in and out among other folks on wheels, and/or with canes, and/or who do/don’t use other supports, and/or who can and cant hear and/or process and/or see and judge distances in different ways etc; bodies in ways that feels weird and scary and comforting and awkward, and unlike anything else i’ve encountered on streets etc. i passed by someone during one exercise where we were moving through the space only in curved lines. We were forming and moving our whole bodies/ individual limbs/ devices/ etc variously in curves, and doing it in such utterly individual and yet thoroughly connected ways. As we passed one another, her version of curve met and briefly, just a couple seconds, played with my version of curve, and then we moved on. i thought i’d burst into tears.
i think the thing about living in a terrifying body for so long is that… i don’t know… maybe the terrifying becomes… passe. Or something. It becomes day to day, status quo, the usual; it becomes familiar. So familiar that sometimes i can’t imagine it any other way (and why should i / would i?). So familiar that the terrifying is still terrifying (and still embarrassing, still nerve wracking, etc), but it stops freezing me in my tracks. Maybe it’s about getting older too, i don’t know, the combination. But whatever it is, i do know that this seems to be a time in my life of trying terrifying new things. Maybe i’m trying to bring the rest of me up to the terrifying level of my body? Maybe i’m feeling a need to up the terror to match it?
i’m not suggesting my fat, trans, hairy, degenerating disabled terrifying body is a “gift” or some other cliche bullshit (another post on that for another day), but isn’t that an interesting thing right there? Without this body, without this reality, this terror, what experiences would i not have had? i don’t know about you, but i’d rather be terrified and enjoying the wonder of that than just sitting with the festering wondering of “what if?”.