Recorded January 2017…. while driving in the pouring rain…
I just realized that when I get where I’m going, I don’t know what to do with it. That I delight in the journey and the struggle, but that I am not sure how to sustain what I DO have. I’m just good at getting it. Because I have this pharmacy department..pretty much, not completely, and I’m feeling like…”eh, I’m done”.
And I can kind of see that pattern in my life where I don’t quite know how to hold what I have, or at least it seems like that. I’m sitting here kind of complacent, wondering “what’s next?” ……. waiting to be cracked open again, amazingly enough. Cuz that’s so hard, but I feel it’s time. There’s something else……I want to feel again. It’s been too long.
So, I’ve been feeling tired to the bone. Not physically tired, but just tired inside. I wouldn’t call it depressed, but kind of ready to give up. I was sitting at the counter last night and suddenly felt weepy, not hard crying, like when you’re grieving something, but like I finally let go a bit.
It became clear to me, like a little voice, that I’ve been running since my divorce. I’m done running. I don’t know what I am running from. That’s over 2 years of kind of being in survival mode. I have had amazing times during it, but underlying everything, I think I’ve been running, …..and I’m tired.
And a little voice also said what I really could use is some actual retreat time. Not just getting out of town and going dancing and wearing myself out, but rejuvenative time off, like Vipassana, or some type of silent retreat, where there isn’t anything to do but nourish myself and give myself the quiet I haven’t had in….way too long.
So I am very thankful that something finally gave last night and I didn’t feel the need anymore to DO anything, or like I was forgetting to do something, or that….I’ve been feeling like something’s going to fall through the cracks. I think it’s that survival mode from the whole divorce. It was fucking traumatic, wondering if he was going to pop his head up again and attack me with lawyers and cost me more money and just threaten my basic livelihood, you know? So, I guess that threat’s not there anymore, and my body is finally realizing it? Anyway, I am a weepy mess, and I am thankful…
I have, for several years now, recorded thoughts on my phone, often while driving. Well, when I got a new phone, I downloaded a different app, and it downloads in mp4 format, which won’t upload, so I have several posts I will be transcribing from audio (and then using a different app for recording!)
I find myself checking my phone like it’s going to reveal something amazing to me, or I guess give me a distraction from the real world, which makes me wonder what I am running from…having to make a decision, having to make stuff happen, or feeling like I do…wanting some guidance and clarity on what’s next,….keeps me from having to feel what’s happening in the moment.
And obviously, since I haven’t been letting myself feel that, I don’t know what’s happening in the moment right now. I can say it’s kind of uncomfortable, and yet I am not really feeling anything. But I know, I just know there’s something underneath it all.
This one is over a month old….releasing, releasing…un-edited….
Unexpectedly up against what I did not know, or would not see, in myself. It all started with the unexpected outstretching of the hand of a stranger, a Facebook friend of a friend. And I find myself suddenly aware of how I have kept everyone at arms distance, all while claiming to be an open book.
It started with me feeling lonely and reaching out via text to several men in my life. They all answered back, but none offered to spend time with me or talk to me. I didn’t ask, just expressed a desire to connect. Then someone I “know” on Facebook messaged me and asked how I was doing, to which I honestly replied I was feeling a tad lonely. His reply, “Hold on for 5 minutes. Let’s chat,” which brought tears to my eyes. Here I was, communicating digitally with men I have experienced physically, in the flesh, and a complete stranger wants to connect with me, for REAL. It didn’t take long of talking to him for me to not feel lonely anymore. Just knowing that someone wanted to reach back when I reached out was huge. To have that person actually reach back, IMMENSE. I try not to reach out from an “empty” place, but it happens sometimes. I wanted connection, and I got it from a completely unexpected place.
Fast forward a week, and he and I hung out during a hike and for food after. It was easy, friendly, and definitely real. Then, I got sick…really sick. He offered to come hang out with me and hold me, or make me soup, whatever I needed to feel comfortable. Again, I cried. Seriously, I don’t know that anyone other than my daughter and my parents have done that for me. Perhaps I didn’t allow it. Most people prefer to be alone when they are sick. I think it’s a preservation thing, isolating our germs so we don’t infect the masses. Either way, I let him in. I let myself be seen, witnessed, cared for and held when I could barely talk and couldn’t stop coughing.
As I went into the next week after that, I found myself wanting to REALLY reach out to friends who I know are going through a tough time. The hard truth is I tend to let people know I am available, and I truly am, but I was always baffled that people wouldn’t take me up on it. And as I have gone through tough times, I have noticed that the random gifts of presence without me having to ask made the difference. The offer to talk, to hold me, to make dinner for me….these are the precious moments that I have not allowed myself to offer in my life.
A part of me knows that somehow I have isolated myself, but I can’t make sense of it yet. It’s messy offering yourself. It’s scary. You can be rejected, but if you are truly reaching out from a giving place, then rejection isn’t part of it. Giving is an art, for sure. Now that I am learning to receive, I am seeing what giving can really be.
Also written 2 months ago…. releasing it to the world
To the men who are infatuated with me…
It was mutual. We met in a strange city for both of us, with a short time to connect, no presence of our mundane life to deal with or distract us from the potential we felt for intimate connection. I was on fire, as I always am during conferences or while traveling. Sexuality oozed, and you wanted it. We met, we shared, and it was mutually exciting, fresh, exhilarating. No doubt if I engaged, it’s because I found you alluring as well.
For some of you, it’s been more than once, sometimes years apart. I want to believe you are excited about ME, all of me, and I don’t like to be pessimistic, but I need to be realistic here. Somehow, your projection of what you want combined with what you experienced, lives in your fantasies and keeps you excited. You did not have time to know ME, in all my UN-glory, in my down times, my sweats, my sick days and down days, and everyday days.
And I battle this, because while I love the excitement of someone being “into” me, it does not fulfill me, especially when they are out of town. And there must be some correlation to them being in another state. They can remember and believe what they want from our experience(s). They can feed their fantasies and brighten their days with whatever they desire to remember and project.
Do I believe in magic? HELL YES. Are these men professing anything other than infatuation? Well, one could be. But, he is married, and that just wouldn’t be right now, would it?
I love that handsome, sexy men find me sexually attractive. It feeds my ego, which isn’t always a bad thing. It affirms that the vibrance I feel radiates out. It is an affirmation of my powerful life force. I want men to also be infatuated with my heart, my passion, my soul. I guess in some ways these men are, but I don’t think they realize that completely and confuse the connection with sex.
Meanwhile, locally, I am not experiencing that connection. I do, and then the guy gets freaked out and shuts down. I don’t think it’s anything I am doing. It must be the type of guys I am attracting, because I am the common denominator here. And I sometimes wonder why I even care. I am not ready to be in a relationship, but I certainly want companionship and intimate touch.
I want to be wanted. And that’s why I love the guys who are infatuated with me. It’s why I fall for their attention. Yet, it’s unfulfilling. It’s so temporary.
This was written 2 months ago…. I decided to stop holding on to it…
Experiencing some interesting and admittedly frustrating contradictions in my life. Or perhaps, that is just my impression…
On one hand, I decided to be sober and celibate August 25th. I didn’t really define celibacy, and instantly I started experiencing high sexual attraction with a small number of men. Go figure. And, lo and behold, the lack of alcohol did not make me any less interested in exploring those connections. I was, perhaps, better able to set a safe limit, so I have that going for me.
I decided to be celibate right around the time I met someone who might have the potential for something really special. He LOVES dance, is super sweet, my age, healthy, brilliant, funny, high energy, has a lovely touch, is handsome, aware, successful and humble in one, not afraid of (and even embraces) his emotions….need I go on?
I largely decided to be celibate for two reasons:
I view the act of sex as spiritual and sacred. I want to be able to explore the depths of sexuality with someone, which requires me to feel absolutely safe and to be with someone of high integrity who views sexuality in the same light as me.
I have not had the experience of forging a really sweet friendship before jumping into relationship. Typically, my relationships started with intense chemistry, and then we found ourselves together a LOT, and then in a relationship. Honestly, seeing it written out like that makes it feel pretty high school and immature. BUT, I think we all have had that.
What I have NOT had was that sweet friendship, where touch was not, more often than not, leading to something sexual. Does that double negative confuse you? Yeah, me too. I want to experience non-sexual touch with a man, with people in general. I want companionship and sweetness. I experienced it with the last guy I dated, and he proceeded to tell me I am the whole package, that he couldn’t ask for more, and then he said GOODBYE. Holy OUCH. At least it was not me, it was him…..
Back to the most recent guy…. I was really excited about exploring potential with him, getting to know him, and we did have a beautiful chemistry for sure. And then I told him I wanted to be celibate, not fully knowing what that meant, thinking that he didn’t just want to get in my pants, and this might be a really good thing. My decision was separate from the incidence of meeting him. And he emotionally vanished. Suddenly, his work became all-consuming. I get it. But I don’t get it.
So, here I stand, wanting that sweet connection, wanting someone to want to be with me, and the guys who want to be with me lately have major similarities (seriously, only a couple guys):
They say, “I am infatuated with you.”
They say, “I fantasize about you.”
They live in other states….
They say, “What we have is unique. You don’t experience it often.”
I fantasized a bit about these guys, and I don’t have this type of connection with tons of people…. but to have this intense, sweet, energizing connection with three people recently? Really? And none of them are potential partners? And since I am having these intense connections so close together, I am not so sure about #4 above.
I wonder, “are they just saying that?” “how many people do they say that to?” “How often is not often?” “Am I being played?”…..oh that cynic in me!!!
The voice that says,
“Amy, you are simply not enough…
Men don’t mean what they say….
Once they get to know you, they won’t want you anymore….
They just want your body, not your mind…”
Meanwhile, in my home town……NADA. I can’t help but realize the common denominator is ME. Yep, where in this am I messing up? Maybe I am just a different person when I am out of town. I know I am extremely adventurous and up for just about anything when travelling. I mean, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, and my time there is short.
And today on a walk, I realized for the umpteenth time that I REALLY want to be WANTED. And if someone doesn’t show interest in me, I walk the other way. If they don’t show CONSISTENT DESIRE TO BE IN MY PRESENCE, I step away, quickly.
My last two marriages, I think, really instilled an intense need to know that I am wanted and desired, because being in a relationship without that is DEATH, and being left by someone I am wholly devoted to is too painful to allow again….at least my mind says that. My heart is hesitant.
So, here I sit, feeling lonely except for random attention digitally from people south and east of me, and the men I have connected with locally aren’t capable, seemingly, of forging something more meaningful. Or, PERHAPS, I need to put myself out there more. I do it, certainly, but I only let rejection happen once, twice if I really like someone, and then I am DONE. I am far from desperate (look at my pride jump up, like a little kid). I wonder sometimes, if someone did want to be with me, what I would do. Would I hem and haw, and secretly freak out inside? I think so.I would be scared to death.
It’s definitely time to see a counselor again and sort some of this stuff out. I love having something to work on. It’s food for the soul, as trying as it is. It means I am close to a period of growth, if I just choose to take the challenge of working through my stuff.
When I do a search on Dancemagazine site for “older dancer”, I find an article blurb asking “Why aren’t we seeing older dancers more often?” and when I click on the More hyperlink,…..the article is no longer there….
Kind of like the remnants of a dancer’s life.
Like amazing dancers who just vanished from the dance world, with only pictures and memories. It’s as if they died, but we have links to them. The links are just dead.
When I have experiences like this, and when I look for classes in cities I am visiting, and they have JAZZ40 (Jazz for folks over 40 years old), I start to feel like a senior citizen. All this at the same time I am thinking of starting dance all over.
Part of me says this is impossible. The pragmatic, scared part of me knows that to simply follow a “regular” career would be the easiest route, the safest route, the predictable route, with only the pain of numbness.
Another part of me, the warrior side, jumps at the challenge. “I can do anything I set my mind to” is her mantra. I have accomplished most of what I set out to do, although I have not learned to sustain anything. But, this is not something to conquer, although I would have to use all of those warrior skills to ensure I am safe and consistent and that I push through those tough times. This part of me knows what it takes, and stands at attention, ready to take on the next challenge I give it.
The weary part of me asks, “when will all these challenges end? I am so deeply tired.” This part wants simplicity, no goals, just time to ponder, and sleep, and feel what comes up. She wants to slow down enough to feel nature, to breathe in her surroundings. Slow down until the air breathes her, until the rumblings of the earth are the rumblings of her body, until the vibrations of the universe are the music in her cells. And then, she will be rejuvenated, and then she will tap into the wellspring of mana and let it flow through her.
And a deeper part of me knows that this is not a labor of a year, or simply a challenge. This is not something for which I instantly drop everything else in a brave attempt to reclaim what I laid down in shame. ..Something I picked up again, and again, and again.
This is a calling to be fully embodied, not just to dance the form I know best, but to yet again be a channel of light and love. This time, with more wisdom, with more gravity, more balance and sincerity.
This is a deep act of self-preservation in a world so confusing and chaotic, so wildly unnatural in its attempt to curb our true wild nature. Our wild nature IS balance. It is a natural, instinctual response to the vibrations moving in, around, and through us. It is not a set of societal structures and rules, but rather an inner compass based on wisdom, heart, and deep knowing. It is sourced from our genes and our ancestors.
I know not where this is coming from, except that I know a knot inside is coming unraveled. It’s a big one, a gnarly mess of shame, grief, unspoken desires and abandoned dreams.
It’s time for something new to be born from an old passion. When I left San Francisco Ballet School and abandoned a full scholarship, I told them that dance was a spiritual thing for me. I didn’t tell them the truth, that I couldn’t afford to survive. And yet, I think in many ways, I did tell the truth. Dance is my way of connecting to source, to being a channel of the FULL experience of life. It rolls in the past, the present, and future. It rolls in HUMANITY. It can be shared or it can be solitary, and either way it connects us.
I trust I will find people who feel the same way as me on my journey. This journey started 33 years ago, when I discovered ballet. While I may not have spent all those years in the studio, I have explored movement in many forms, and I keep coming back to the DANCE….
I am fresh back from a walk through memories of a time when I found…and subsequently lost, myself. So much I need to get down….so much percolating….
When I heard of Walter Swarthout‘s passing, I was shocked, as anyone would imagine. I had not heard of anything awry with his health, and indeed it was unexpected. Granted, I had not had real contact with him for 22 years possibly, but Facebook has a way of giving us cursory information about people. What I wanted to know was how Margaret, his wife of 50 years, was doing and how could I make sure to be at the wake so as to connect with her and the people who may attend?
I hate that deaths bring people together, but I realized this may be the last opportunity to connect with so many people from my past, from a past that somehow, against everything that sings in me, I gave up,…..and I have been lost ever since. I did not hear of a wake, but I did receive notice of a celebration of his life October 1, 2016. I only pretended in my mind to debate whether I could make the time to go down to the Bay Area, but my soul had made up my mind the instant I learned it was on a weekend and within a 6 hour drive from my home.
I brought my daughter, who gave no fuss thankfully, and we headed out Saturday morning, with copious amounts of coffee, at 6am for the Bay Area, to visit friends I had danced with 20+ years ago when I was living my life with my first true love, Dance. I was excited to share my history with my daughter, to share a time of my life I talked about with distant eyes.
I moved away from home a week after I turned 16 to San Rafael, California to study at Marin Ballet on full scholarship. My ballet teacher Lynn Cox had left Albuquerque, New Mexico to teach with them, and I was considering quitting dance without her there to keep things going. I made the better choice and followed her out there. It was a crazy time. I broke my foot in class 10 days after I moved there, and was living with a family that was pretty understanding, but I am sure they did not anticipate having a depressed teen dancer on their hands. I would not let it sidetrack me, though. I was exactly where I wanted to be. There was ZERO question about sticking it out.
After the first semester, the family would not keep me, and I moved into the ballet school. As far as I know, I was the first dancer to live in the building, or at least the first female dancer. That building used to be a convent, and our main studio was the chapel, so it had big, golden tinted windows that cast a warm glow when the sun was shining in. At night, it was big, cavernous, and left me too much space to mentally roam. I was thankful at times for my tiny room.
As my daughter and I approached San Rafael, I searched for familiar places…. for the underpass I walked under every morning to catch the public bus at 7:13am to get to school, for any buildings that were familiar. It had changed dramatically, but when I pulled around the corner of Linden Lane to Elm Street, and saw the ballet school….I knew it hadn’t changed much.
As soon as I saw the second story windows, so many memories came flooding in….of people who had ended up sharing the building with me at times, such as Alejandra, and Amir, and Sebastian….and the rooms… and the stairwell outside that I would go and pound my new toeshoes on to soften the toe box. And the runner I met in the dark before dawn when I was desperately trying to meet anyone in the area…. and I found myself parking in the exact same spot as I did 20+ years ago.
And the emotions hit me….excitement, apprehension, sadness, remorse, giddiness, curiosity…all of it. I walked slowly up, past all of the bunheads, fairly oblivious to my daughter and me, despite the fact we seemed pretty out of place with our slow gait and wandering eyes. The inside main level had been completely and beautifully revamped in white, metal and glass. I pointed out the studio where I had my most transformative movement experience ever, the couch where I realized one lonely night that I was in love with my gay roommate Amir, the lobby I had spent so much time in, the staircase I had traversed hundreds of times. The wood was still the same. I pointed out the hallway that used to have a pay phone that I got in trouble for using and giving out the number. I had tried to meet guys, and they would call during school hours for me. It was not a good thing. The phone wasn’t there, but the studio looked the same. I used the bathroom, nearly tripping over the 20 young dancers sprawled out in the small locker room next to the stalls. We definitely did NOT fit in, but I didn’t care. That was my home once. I still belonged. I left a part of myself there.
I went to the front desk and mentioned that I used to live here (at which point I started crying, of course), and asked if I could walk around. She didn’t seem phased and said yes. More and more memories flooded in as I walked up those steps, looking through the glass partition that once was wall….by Ms. Swarthout’s old office, and straight to Studio D, the big girls’ studio. They had raised the floor, so that you could no longer catch that extra moment of air by running from the hallway and leaping off the step into the studio, but other than that, it was exactly the same. The windows, the lighting, the old school chairs, even the letters labeling the rows of chairs were the same. The portable barres, the same, …..the fat wood barres, the same. (The picture below is from MarinMommies.com and one of few I could find of even part of the studio.)
Even more memories flooded in, of the piece I did with Lynn Cox, of the day I broke my foot, and exactly where I sat. I pointed out where I used to sit and do floor barre with my cast, and I remembered the long night I had a breakdown and wailed until I was spent, and pounded my fist on the floor until I thought it would break because I was heartbroken over the man I had lost my virginity to. So many memories that nobody ever knew about…. so many lonely nights.... Amir and the pictures he took of me bathed in the golden light cast by those windows on the dance floor, my long hair falling behind me.
I knew my daughter was uncomfortable, with three dancers sitting around talking and stretching before class, but they paid us no heed, and I needed to take the time to FEEL that space, to feel what it opened up in me. It was so incredibly clear that I was HOME. Nowhere else on this earth was as much a home for me as that big, creaky building that housed more tears and laughter and triumphs and challenges and friendships and expression than any other place in my life. That was where I had a love affair with my true love, where I was held by the community of dancers that understood and loved and supported me. I had never quite realized the power of that place on me until yesterday. I wanted to do another plie, a few tendus… just for old times’ sake. I refrained, but I am not sure why.
Next, I took my daughter to the back, where I used to live, and amazingly, it was EXACTLY like 22 years ago. The paint had not been updated or even touched up, the bathrooms were the same old tile, the floors the same linoleum, and only the contents of rooms had changed. I showed my daughter the bathroom, with the stalls and 2 showers, pointing out this was my bathroom for 2 years. I didn’t mention that I had sat on the floor of one of the showers one lonely Sunday, contemplating suicide because I thought that I was fat. By that point, I was deep into my anorexia. Thankfully, once I thought of how I would commit the deed, I realized I couldn’t do that to myself. Nevertheless, it was a scary and dark place.
My first room was converted into a pilates studio while I lived there, at which point I was moved to the other end of the long hallway. This is where most of my memories were of living there. We walked down to see it, and opened up the door to what is now the Boys’ Training room, full of weights and a thin, cheap carpet over the cold linoleum I once had. I could picture my small bed tucked in the corner, surrounded by toeshoes and posters of dancers hanging all over the walls around me, like a ballet cocoon. …and the small table where I had my tiny boombox that played classical music while I studied on the bed, my books, and the 6″ black and white tv I watched only very occasionally. The sink in the corner was the same, the closet, the window, and the exposed baseboard heater.
I then took her down the back stairs into the kitchen, where I informed her I had to lock up my food, because occasionally other dancers would eat my food, or they would take my only spoon, which I had stolen from the grocery store, because I only had $20/week to live off for food. I think if they had realized my situation, they likely would have offered me silverware and food, but I was proud and didn’t see my situation as rough, just tight. I was so resourceful, only buying the overripe bananas, nearly stale bread, and other clearance items. It was not unusual for me to steal my weekly 5 pounds of carrots, and I think the folks at the grocery store probably knew. I was so thin at 95 pounds and 5’6″, I think they took pity on me.
The kitchen was not much different, rough and handmade, with white painted wood paneling making up the shelves and cabinets. No lock was on the refrigerator anymore though, since nobody lived there. And then, the room by the kitchen where Amir lived, and afterward Sebastian, the man I lost my virginity to. I had moved out by that time, thankfully. And then the studio downstairs where I listened to that haunting piano piece that sounds like raindrops. I laid in the dark space and let the rain fall down my face as the notes dripped into my heart…a haunting, serene, and surreal night.
By this time, I had completed the ghost tour of the studio, and I could have hung out for days, but I knew my daughter was uncomfortable, and it didn’t make sense to hang out where I was no longer dancing. I suppose it would have been weird for me to suddenly take up residence again….
I regretted not getting pictures of me in the space, but I made sure to get just one picture out front. Of course, the instant I decided to take a picture, a dad promptly seated himself, and a dancer did too. They were oblivious to the idea that I might actually have enough reverence for this building that I might want to take the picture without them. They added to the picture though, showing that this building is still a vibrant school of dance.
The memories didn’t stop there! We went downtown to 4th street and visited my old haunt Royal Ground Coffee. I was there when it first opened 23ish years ago, and I let them know I was an old-timer. They still sell the same brand of oat cakes!
It was nearly time to get ready for the celebration of Walter’s life, but first I took my daughter to my old high school. First, I showed her the amphitheater outside where I graduated, and we were fortunate enough to be able to go inside, where I snapped a photo by the Redwood High School Alum pics, specifically the one of Robin Williams.
At this point, it’s time to get prettied up and ready to see actual people from my past at their new dance school, Marin Dance Theater. That is big enough for a second blog, to be sure….. until then….
Make love to me with your presence…with your silken gaze and gentle caress of your hand as you pass me tea, gently, gently… make love to me.
Make love to me with your laughter, your twinkly eyes meeting mine in celebration of mirth, of life, of love. Caress my cheek with your gaze, hold my words in your palms, in your heart, like a gentle dove sleeping, caress them gently, gently…
Make love to me with your view. Sit next to me, share time, hold me near, not too close, yet all the way deep inside your heart and soul. I want to meet you there, where feelings erupt and dreams collide and passion bubbles and overflows, where butterflies roam and fields and streams hold the treasures of dreams deep and long-held.
Make love to me with your passion- open up- tear yourself wide open. Let me see the darkness of your belonging, the beauty of your shadowy soul. Let fly your expression, let go of yourself and fall into the unknown, dive deep with me so that we may fly through the heavens of our desires.
My heart is ablaze, my belly soft and full, my breasts abound with passion and delight. Come rest in my bosom. Let me caress your sweet head. Come, suckle me, feel the generosity of of my body against yours, the warmth, the soft, silky skin responding to yours. Feel the generosity of my wetness, expressing desire, acceptance, relaxation, trust. Hold me gently now, for I am vulnerable. I am opening, unfurling, and it’s all very scary, this unfolding. Please, hold me gently.
Make love to me with your presence, now more than ever. Quaking with excitation, apprehension, the falling apart of the rigid constructs of persona. My soul is coming forth, behold it, adore it, let it fly with wild abandon. Hold me close, but let my soul fly free. Hold me gently, softly, with the tenderness you would give a baby bird.
I am a flower unfurling, petals curling open, nectar for the offering, so vulnerable, so soft, falling into myself, into you.
Make love to me with your presence. See me as I am, gently, gently….