Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Face Hurts!

So what’s a good story without a few plot complications? 

Upon returning home, Gary had dutifully packed up and shipped my computer for a quick (and expensive) 3-day delivery, scheduled to arrive tomorrow, June 8th.  Paid the extra shipping charges and everything, which I didn’t even want to ask about – the thing weighed 45 pounds, all packed up.  But what’s tomorrow?  A Jewish holiday.  Yep.  And so is Thursday.

According to the Residence Office, they’ll be closed tomorrow AND Thursday, which also means that they won’t be accepting deliveries.  Seems odd to me, since there is 24 hour security on staff at all times, and, you know, people LIVE HERE and stuff, but even security said they can’t deal with mail and deliveries, so if the office is closed, it’s like the whole building is closed.

For deliveries.

So that means I won’t get my computer until Friday, even though I’m supposed to meet with the Internship folks this evening and receive my first assignment(s).  If only Final Cut Pro would run smoothly on my laptop!  Alas, it is a pain to even open, much less try to dink around with various film clips on a 13” screen.  I’m secretly hoping that the security guards will accept the package anyway, being as how I asked them about it with puppy-dog eyes and mentioned that I need it to do my work.  Security guards aren’t usually easily swayed.  That’s probably, like, why they’re security guards.

But on a lighter note, I decided to join the Fitness Center for a few months, which is located on the lower levels of the 92Y where I live.  I decided that I must do this because back home, the one thing that keeps me from joining a health club there is knowing full well that I’m not going to want to drive across town to go create pain in my body, and then drive all the way back covered in sweat (I’m squeamish about public showers unless I’m forced to do it – you know – like I am here at the 92Y).  But when a full-body workout, a gamut of dance and aerobics classes, and a 4-lane swimming pool are literally a stair-descent away, how could I not join?

So last night I decided to check out the Middle Eastern dance class.  I’ve taken that style of dance before at Coconino Community College, and had a blast.  I’ve also taken many a dance class in my life, and have grown accustomed to a sort of love-hate relationship with them.  When I was younger, the girls in my dance classes were there because they were quite serious.  Serious about themselves, about their dancing, and about putting down other people whom they deemed unable to dance as well as they.  Stuck up bitches, to put it bluntly.  But I tolerated them – learned to ignore them, in fact (which turned out to be a useful skill for me later in life).  But it always put a damper on things.  Made my dance class experience always less-than what it could be.  So here I was in NYC, the absolute Mecca for dancers.  I prepared myself for the worst.  I expected to feel dumpy and old and uncoordinated among sleek, young, beautiful, talented dancers.  I didn’t even have shoes, and was going to wing it barefoot.  In a word, I was a bit freaked.  But I’d paid my money, which included any class I wanted to take, and I figured, with 8 million people in NYC, who cares if I make a fool of myself and never come back?  Will I EVER see these people again?  Probably not.  So down the stairs I plodded, in my old leotard from my previous jazz class, my ballet tights, and Nike workout pants.  It was all I could muster up and pack from my dance clothes at home, and I looked like a goof.  But I just didn’t care.  Well, not that much.

I showed up at the dance studio and there were women of all ages there – wearing all sorts of things.  One girl had a beautiful black, flowy middle eastern outfit on, but most of the others had on shorts, t-shirts, some had leotards and tights like me, but everyone looked different.  This was not your black-leotard-pink-tights, pink-or-black-shoes required uniform type of thing that they always pull on you in ballet or jazz.

And then the instructor came in.  A beautiful, long-haired, shapely woman named Julia Kulakova.  Smiling from ear to ear, she floated up to the stereo, cued up her CDs, and floated back to the middle of the floor.  This is where I expected to be told to leave the class because of my bare feet.  Instead, she told everyone else to take off their shoes, because we “ground” ourselves here.  This is a dance with roots, she says.  I felt a little tickle of excitement in my belly.

The first hour of class was difficult, but fantastic.  She showed us moves that I’d never seen before in my classes back home, in the SCA, or even from the Gypsy camp at the Renn Faires.   I wasn’t exactly coordinated – my body at 40 doesn’t want to do what I tell it to – not like it used to.  But I was able to do the moves just as well as most of the other students, and I was quite delighted to see that everyone there was simply there to have fun.  Smiles all around me – not a scowl or an eyebrow raised in judgment anywhere in sight. 

As the class progressed and I finally “got it,” I, too, started to smile.  Then I quickly found myself overwhelmed with emotion, and my eyes teared up – just a little.  I realized that this was the first time I’d felt truly happy since I'd arrived in New York.  I had been spending so much time sulking around, wondering if I’m doing the right thing, worried that I’m spending our savings on frivolous extended stays in NYC, perhaps wasting time here when perhaps I should just be out looking for a paying job, missing my husband with excruciating force, etc.  But here I was, finally, smiling to myself because, dab nab it, I’m having fun. 

The class ended, and I was about to go upstairs to join the Zumba class that started in 5 minutes, when I overheard Julia say, “Get a drink and get ready for the next class.”  Next class?  Fabulous!  I stayed right where I was and waited, and the next class turned out to be even more fun than the first.  We tried out a fusion of various Middle Eastern steps mixed with Latin and African dance moves!  Again, these were things I’ve never seen before, much less tried to do myself.  I laughed and giggled with the other women, attempted the hard stuff, danced myself silly when I got the Latin steps down, and just let myself fully enjoy the class and everyone in it.  There were women older than me and younger than me, of all shapes and sizes, but what we all had in common was a huge silly grin on our faces that told everyone we were just there to get a nice sweaty workout and have a great time doing it.

I was so invigorated after the two hours of class that I decided to climb 8 flights of stairs back to my room.  Then I peeled off the dance clothes and headed straight for the shower, washed the sweat of my satisfyingly aching body, and plodded back to my room, where I realized that even my face hurt – because I was still smiling.