Dare to Dance


It’s the early 90’s.
The orange rays of light are beaming,
making their way through the cracks of large windows,
as the evening practice started.
The gym is roaring with the beats of Smooth Criminal,
and a group of teenage girls is lined up,
following my mother’s choreography,
and getting ready for a dance competition.

It’s a typical evening for a kid of two professors,
hanging out with older kids from their classes,
dance teams, chess clubs, or sports teams.
If only I had their guts.
When asked to dance I turn into a stiff lobster face,
quickly resolving the situation,
by rushing to mingle with dad’s chess club.

It’s a choice between hobbies.
One could develop into a passion for a lifetime.
I only dance when I am in the woods alone,
preferably in the dark when the natural light dims out.
Watching my mom’s dance team always blows my mind,
but I only dare to compete by running or cross country skiing.

It’s the year 2002.
One of my childhood hobbies turned into a passion.
I’ve been inspired by the exercise to “maniac”
from the movie Flashdance.
Our lawn still has bold spots
from my steps through the years.
The grass took a serious beating.
It has become a quirky part of my training, as a runner.
I love waking up early to run at the crack of dawn
and arrive at the stadium for the afternoon practice.
The collegiate athlete’s routine is energizing.
This weekend we are traveling to Houston, Texas
for the Conference USA Championship.
I am nervous about the 3k race.
It is my first time competing in the event.

The Year of 2004.
The year of heartbreak.
I am no longer allowed to compete.
Seizures have grown to be too frequent,
bringing along the concussions from the fall.
Ambulance rides became as familiar as putting spikes on.
The last glimmer of hope – staying up the night before EEG.
The women’s team is up with me to keep me company.
The power of teamwork is overwhelming,
but health claimed the priority seat at the table,
and I have to kiss my spikes goodbye.
Being stripped of such a big part of my life is debilitating.

More than a decade later.
The rollercoaster seems only bigger.
failed relationships,
lost friendships,
more health concerns,
loss of interest in anything,
and feeling utterly lost.
Is it a quarter-life crisis?
After several more EEGs, it is clear.
No signs of epilepsy,
but suspicions of pseudoseizures.
I can’t risk driving
or standing by the train tracks.
These constraints are making me mad,
mad at others, mad at the world,
and most of all mad at myself.
Yes! This is the beginning of transformation,
and more environmentally friendly lifestyle,
no more cars, but a sailboat is a terrific replacement.

Streets are getting filled again,
and so are the dance floors.
It’s time for a new beginning.
It’s time to let go.
Let go of the desire for perfection,
whatever it may be…
Let go of expectations,
of the never-ending effort to be normal,
of past mistakes and failures,
of stigma,
of self image,
or my stiff lobster face.
It’s time for self expression,
to lose myself in the moment,
and begin moving to my own beat,
becoming the maniac on the rainy streets of my old tears,
making a space for the misty stream of colors.
Space for music.
Dance is turning into a restorative absolution,
for both my light and dark selves.
Why should the dance stop?
Getting to see the world upside down is part of it,
and there’s no need to stop dancing.

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