One of the biggest lessons I learned at my college job was: some people just don’t want to be happy. It’s puzzling, I know. But, nonetheless, there are people who would rather have, I don’t know, an allotted amount of negativity in every day. Maybe it fuels them somehow? Makes them feel balanced inside? I sure don’t know. But! I know that they’d rather gripe and complain about something, anything, then say a positive word.
How did I learn this? My job in college was lit.er.al.ly handing out free food. All day, every day. And, yeah, some of the food was better than the other food, assuredly. But I soon realized that some people would complain about the food no matter what it was. Oh, and I mentioned the food was free, right?
Yes, as unbelievable as it may sound, there are people who will eat free food and then complain.
But, on one of the days when I was handling the complaints I realized: this is not my fault. This is this person’s fault. I will never, ever be able to satisfy them.
And that was freeing, in a way.
Let me tell you about last night.
Last night, before bed, I made some cookie dough and left it to chill in the fridge (honey-rosemary cookies. Thoughts on how that sounds? I can report back later). But, before I went to bed I snuck a fingertip of honey-cookie dough off of the mixer-paddles. Hello, delicious.
And then I tried to go to bed, but tonight there is a dance with live music and, even though I am an adult with a bona fide adult job and adult worries and adult car payments, I was still too wiggly-happy to sleep very well.
And I woke up happy, too, because: dancing, you guys.
But then, today, I encountered one of the people-who-is-unhappy. This person is unhappy with me a lot, it seems. And, I know I’m not perfect, so knowledge that there is room for personal improvement doesn’t bother me so much (forever improving!!) but, sometimes it’s just like, “Yo. Cut me some slack because I’m only just a human person trying my best.”
I was going to write this whole post about not being able to please some people BUT THEN I was like, “Or, I could just stop giving this issue the emotional energy I’m currently giving it and instead TALK ABOUT DANCING.”
My blog, my life, my rules.
(Kind of. I’m also baptized, yo).
SO HERE WE GO.
Maybe, after work, I will drive home.
But maybe, first, I will drive to one of my favorite secondhand shops and I can buy a new dress or a skirt, but only if it’s extra-spin-y.
And then I will come home and make cauliflower crust pizza and those lovely honey-cookies and my mom will talk to me about the sewing class she went to while I wash and dry my “new” dress (or skirt).
And then, maybe, I will say my night-prayers early tonight and then drive out dancing.
I always say to myself, “You’re getting older now, Nell, and maybe you should be, I don’t know, more reserved this time around”…until, that is, I hear the music. The music, you guys.
In normal settings, everyone stands around like it’s just there as white-noise, in the background, and they can ignore it and talk over it. But, I’m really bad at this. I hear good dancing-music and, well, I feel it in my core.
And when I’m with dancers, they all feel the same way. So there is no need for a lot of small talk or catching up. It’s understood that there is good music and a dance floor, by golly! And we all belong on that dance floor!
I love watching everyone move together, to the beats of the music. Even the people who are off-tempo I love to watch because: why not? Let them love the music in their own way.
I love to move to this music, conscious of all of the parts of my body, moving even my rib cage and my knees and my hair as I see fitting. Flaring my arms, swiveling my ankles, all of it yes, please.
I love interacting with all of my different leads–some slower, some faster; some precise and calculated; others creative and interpretive.
How about listening to a live band, though? How about hearing old songs, old favorites and saying to the person closest to you, “Are you here to dance?? Let’s do it!” How about those moments of the new songs, the songs you’ve never heard, when you try to stake out the rhythm-you’ve-never-danced-to-before?
How about meeting new friends? Trying, within seconds, to figure out what this new person dances like, how they approach the dance floor and life in general, all within a few minutes for a song. How about seeing old friends, ones you’ve danced with before and saying, “Hey! Hey! Will you save me a dance?” and then linking pinkies to seal the deal?
How about those leads who can’t, for whatever reason, hear the beat? Cheers to them and the individualized beats they set!
How about those leads who lead you like it’s absolutely what you wanted to do allllll along? The ones who say, “It’s never your fault, don’t worry,” even when you miss a step? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
And there’s that moment when a lead steps out into the grounded, focused position that marks the transition into Lindy Hop. He’ll step out poised, confident, and usually with a focused, serious gaze. Be still my beating, beating heart, for here comes those fast-feet movements and rotations until I feel like I’m flying on the dance floor; flying, no longer grounded.
And, also, on the other hand, dancing sweaty with other sweaty-friends, which means by the end of the night I’ve touched and exchanged sweat with, who can say? Twenty sweaty guys? More? So then I smell like a hybrid sweaty-guy for the world to smell.
And what about those weird instances where, after completing a complicated pattern where maybe you both held your breath, you find that you and your partner are breathing in the exact same pattern? That part is the weirdest. We won’t talk about that part.
We’ll instead talk about saying, “Oh, no, I need to go now” and then, “Oh, but this song is so good. Yes, how about that one more dance, then?” and staying even longer.
We’ll instead talk about the kind, kind people who say things like, “You’re such a lovely dancer,” even though the floor is full of lovely dancers and the leads who say, “You’re on of my favorite follows.” You know what? Maybe, tonight, I’ll believe them.
And, finally, I’ll walk to my car because I’ll notice that my timing is slowing and my feet are tiring. And maybe my shoes will feel uncomfortable as I walk back, under the stars (there is no moon tonight, right? Plus the meteor shower). And I’ll be sticky from my sweat, mixed with others, but also full of the happiness that comes from friends and music and summer nights and, most of all…dancing.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll wake up tomorrow happy, too. 🙂