Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Flying Without Wings

"The dance is a spirit. It turns the body to liquid steel. It makes it vibrate like a guitar. The body can fly without wings. It can sing without voice. The dance is strong magic. The dance is life."
- Pearl Primus

Gypsy Dancer, Stanly Meltzof,  oil on gesso panel,
Cover of The Atlantic Monthly, September 1954

Have you ever experienced that foggy, vaguely dreamy state of mind between sleep and wakefulness? You know what I mean, the time where you know you're not really awake yet, but can't figure out just where you are? Yeah, that's where I've been.  

Re-entry into the real world can be difficult after a much needed break from it. Such is the case in my return from Kansas City and the reunion marking the 40th anniversary of our high school graduation.

I've had a very hard time readjusting since arriving home on Sunday evening, in part because of the excitement surrounding the Graceful One's arrival later that night (home for a few weeks before departing for her new job in Georgia), but it can't be blamed soley on that.

I worried about this malaise for a day or so (malaise is SO unlike me), until I ran across the most recent post from my friend, Delana, in France, who writes about this same feeling in her beautiful blog, du Jour. Evidently, I'm not the only one who feels slightly displaced after a short trip to another place, and I'm grateful to Delana for expressing it so beautifully.

I found myself whiling away the days searching through pictures of the past weekend, reliving each and every moment with old friends I had long anticipated seeing, and new friends who had instantly endeared themselves to me.

Many things about this extraordinary weekend will linger in my mind for years. I'm sure I will revist them many times here at Smiling Heart, and I'm filled with gratitude at the enormous gift of time and talent that was shared.

[One entire evening of live entertainment was organized by two dear alums who gathered together some of the many grads who are musicians. This jam session was the best live music I've heard in years, and showed how one particular year in the life of a school can produce a proliferation of one 'type' of students who excel at something. For some years, it may be scientists or engineers or athletes. For our Ruskin High School Class of 1971, an extraordinary crop of artists and musicians emerged. I am in awe of them all.]

What will stay with me forever is the dancing.

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love to dance. When did that happen? Certainly not when I was in high school. In high school, I was so afraid of how I would look on the dance floor that I was more than happy to sit out most of the dances and watch the 'good' dancers do their thing. 

Somewhere between the decades of parenting and grandparenting, I cast aside the silly notion of caring what I looked like and began to just enjoy the dance. Today, while I'm no expert at dancing, I'm an ace at enjoying the dance!

I was so pleased to find that many of my classmates felt the same way. We danced like gypsies, a group of nomads moving from place to place each evening, bringing our music and drink with us wherever we went (served from the trunk of a car when necessary), and experienced the strong magic of dancing together. 

The music may have been R&B, Rock, Country or Pop, but the feeling was all gypsy. We enjoyed ourselves without reservation, flying without wings and vibrating like the strings of the guitars we listened to.

Oh, my, it was fun. It's no wonder I'm having trouble with the re-entry.

Today, I hope you enjoy the dance!

The music selection today had to be from a gypsy, for whether we were dancing to Al Green or Madonna, I heard the fire of gypsy violins as I danced.

This is the Hungarian violinist, József Lendvay, playing the "Csárdás" (a traditional Hungarian dance) by Vittorio  Monti. I've heard this piece played many times by many groups, but this one has the fire of the gyspy in it. Enjoy!  (Oh, and feel free to get up and dance!)



  1. I'm all about the dance as you know. Like you, I never danced in high school. Silly me. But I dance now.

    It's ok to take awhile to re-enter fully. Enjoy the fog and slowly but surely dance your way back to "real" life.

    Love to you!

  2. Thank you, Reya! Oh, how I wish we could have danced the nights away together! Maybe next time, dear friend.

    I look forward to catching up with all my favorite blogs today and tomorrow. My real life day today begins with getting the permanent crown put on my broken tooth...finally!

    much love back to you, xoxo

  3. Jo! As I read your post, I kept wasn't just a place you returned to - but a TIME...the PAST with the same players. Simulating THAT back into your life, those things you forgot, those things you and each of us have gained - time forward after touching base with the past. What a wonderful feeling! I am so grateful that you placed your thoughts here - in an artistic way! Thank you!

  4. BTW - I LOVE that Gypsy Dancer painting! Such ENERGY!

  5. Nancy, you're so right. It was time travel at its best! The good part is that we were finally grown up and no longer encumbered by our old most cases!

    I so wish you could have come for the time, okay? ♥

  6. I'm so glad you had fun at your reunion. Now about the re-entry thing... I always have trouble getting back into the swing of things/the routine when I return home after having been away for a while. It could be a two day or a two week trip; I just have problems re-assimilating myself into the mix.

    The important this is "the dance". I love to dance and have since I was about 10 years old. In high school I was a dancin' fool! If I didn't have a person with whom to dance I'd dance holding a doorknob! Seriously, that's how I taught myself to dance. It actually helped that my dear Aunt Dot loved to dance as well. We would do the Charleston on my grandmother's front porch! Now, I don't dance so much... the G-man isn't really a dancer although I think he'd like to be. (Personally, I think he has rhythm issues.) Once in a while we'll dance around the house. I'm really glad you got over your "caring what you looked like" and have developed a love of the dance.

  7. Oh what fun we had ! Dancing the night away. Thanks for the memories once again...

    Love to you and xoxoxoxoxoxox

  8. Oh, Lizzy, you made me laugh today! Thank you for the great images of you...dancing with a door knob, doing the Charleston with Aunt Dot, and dancing around the house with the G-man! How can a golfer have rhythm issues? :-)

    I'm thrilled to find there are others out there who need to take a little extra time assimilating after a trip. Thank you for the affirmation!

    Keep on dancing, Lizzy,

  9. Oh Vicki, it was such fun. Let's do it soon as I recover from this time! ;-)

    Much love to you, my roomie, my make up artist, my fashion consultant, and my dear friend. You are amazing.♥

  10. jo it feels very good to have you up and about. finding your self back in your own space after a trip is a cool feeling. you really see and feel your home in that precious return. high school was so difficult for me in every way but i carry some good memories in terms of putting it all in perspective and seeing it as a piece of how i became who i was and especially how it helped me become who i am and in some ways becoming. i'm really glad you had such a good time. perfect timing. steven

  11. Steven, it feels very good to be back, though part of me wants to return again to the carefree days of my youth and dwell there just a bit longer.

    I think high school was difficult for most of us, especially after having spoken to so many of my classmates, whom I had always thought to be quite secure and self-assured. Only by going back to my roots was I able to see how very different I am today, and how very nice it is to interact now with my classmates as the fully formed people we are.

    In every way, for me, it was perfect timing, indeed. I am blessed.

    I'm looking forward with great joy to catching up with your writing, which has become a precious part of my life.

    Thank you for welcoming me home today. ♥

  12. Jo, as always, such a pleasure to read your thoughts. I've enjoyed the Ruskin reunion photos you and others have shared on FB. I even recognize a few names and faces!

    You've had so much going on recently. You are handling the good and the sad and all the in-between with good grace and humor. Keep on dancing.

  13. Thanks so much, Jan! I always seem to have a lot going on, don't I? I guess I've learned to heed what my mother would say when I'd complain about my busy life when the kids were little...."Enjoy it now. There's plenty of time to sit and be bored when you're older."

    I hope that time never comes!


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