Restless. Forever restless. Thoughts going through my head today. To set the scene, I’m packing (yet again) for my summer venture. Getting ready for a last dinner at home — steak, wine, lists scattered everywhere. I’ll miss my house with its cream rugs and wide windows and dark wooden tables. It’s a place that’s definitely been lived in.
There’s a song under my skin today. When I get a song stuck in my head, it stays there for days. It’s this buzzing, colorful feeling that makes me want to run out and do something and also burst into tears. (It’s a good feeling though — that’s how I know I like a song.) But when it stays with me, it stays for ages. I want to write. I want to suddenly make it all significant and condense a feeling.
In some ways (in many ways), I miss being a dancer. It was a concrete way for me to get the song out of my veins — dance until I was sore and laying against the floor of my studio. (What’s the word for that black, almost chalky-smooth material they have on the floors of dance studios?) I was always passable, never great. But I’d still stay there for hours watching the better dancers practice solos, or doing turns. Even now, the tug of my heel in second-position turns, the revolution of my center, is a dizzying feeling that my heart yearns for. I’m on the hip-hop team at W&L, but we meet rarely, and I’m still self-conscious about not being that good.
But frankly, I don’t have the technique anymore to attempt chasing dance wholeheartedly again. My ankles are weaker. My muscles are stiffer from lacrosse.. I lost all my flexibility — which is what I was always best at. If I tried to do a tilt, I’d probably fall over. I’ve been out of the game too long. I always thought when I was older, and making money in some city somewhere, I’d spend my money on a good piano and ballet lessons.
It’s always an art I’ll appreciate. Something I’ll long for. If I had picked dance earlier, if I hadn’t fallen that day in high school, if I had taken more classes when it mattered…
In any case, I think good lines are gorgeous. A stunning contemporary solo will tug at my heartstrings like nothing. I could watch dancers for hours. I went on a date to Coppélia once. I wore this black halter dress and paced by the Riverwalk while I waited for him to show up. I remember going on pointe for the first time — the pinch,the blood, the pride of that pink satin. Trying to figure out how to sew.
(Even now, writing about it, my heart aches and I’m mentally running through ways I could dance again.)
Now that I don’t have dance, what ways do I have of getting a song out of my skin? Or these thoughts, blurring and humming in ways I can’t stop or control? It would be easier if I didn’t dream, or always wonder about everything around me, or feel the pressure of recording all of this.
I write on my walls.
I drive around.
I fidget, and have intricate conversations about why. Why am I here? Why do some things hurt, and why are others better? What is my purpose? What’s the point? Who am I going to connect with? What am I good at? What’s going to happen? And all those questions sound remarkably self-centered, but they aren’t that specific when I’m talking to someone. More of just a general we live on a pale blue dot and this is all so random and uncontrollable sometimes but not in a way that makes me feel helpless conversation. I’m painfully aware that I’m not any more significant than the person next to me, or a person I’ve never met. People who have hurt me or angered me or impeded my goals are just as deserving of happiness and fulfillment, so who am I to resent the cards I’ve been dealt? Sure, I have people I vaguely dislike situationally but I don’t think I’m really capable of hating anyone as a whole. (Kind of gets me in trouble sometimes, but I digress.) It could be also because I drive myself crazy thinking about how nobody necessarily has the same thought process, and you’ll never know, and therefore you can’t really judge or put yourself above them. I dislike ideals of superiority.
I know it’s hard to keep it all in perspective when difficult things happen. I know it’s hard to believe that my life will settle out in the way it’s supposed to.
Every moment that I’m happy, I’m aware of its fragility. I remember one moment from early March, lying in my bed and mulling over the strange flutter in my chest of pure joy. I remember thinking “this isn’t going to last so how do I stretch it?” I don’t mean that in a negative way, either, but I just know that the bumpy, disjointed nature of our lives means that there’s inevitable contrast. I can use it the same way when I’m deeply sad, lying in my bed, mulling over the inescapable feeling of darkness. “How do I get past this?”
If I can have this much life crammed into six years, I can have so much in sixty. Beyond what my mind can comprehend right now. So surely it will all be okay.
I’ m rather aware of my inability to look two years ahead and know that everything I worry about will be okay, that I’ll have a new set of separate worries to obsess over. It’s never-ending, which could drive me a little crazy, but my lack of peace just drives me to be constantly searching for whatever it is that I want even if I don’t have the name for it. I want to matter. I want to scream out into the ether and find whatever deep-rooted otherness I often feel when I’m watching the sun dip below the horizon or when I see really crowded stars or uninterrupted golden stretches of farmland. Whatever beauty makes me thrum.
I still keep coming back to that word restless.
It’s like in your chest there’s a magnet, a magnet not for metal but for a substance not available on this planet. So that it is constantly pulling […] at something it will never draw close. Must be where they got the expression aching for something. Because it is a kind of ache. To want something and want something and. After a while you begin to feel intimate with the missing part.
I roll my eyes at inspirational or sappy quotes, but find deep solace in poems that seem to echo my sentiments in subtle ways. Talking about light or the particular sadness of watching a day end and wanting to cling to it. The fading presence of memory.
I’m so curious as to what people want. Because you can take the question at its base level — some sleep. A hug. An A in that class I’ve been dying in. Or you can analyze why you want those things. I want to not be so tired every morning. I want to feel like what I’m killing myself for is worth it. I want to feel validated, or like somebody out there loves me. I want to feel seen. I want to be able to set myself up for a life of comfort later, in which I have the opportunities to make my life bigger through travel and experience. Or you can take it deeper. I want to disappear. I want a world without boundaries, to run off into the wilderness sometimes. To feel my very bones explode with feeling and reach that point of meaning.
It’s so hard to see someone as a player in your life versus a fully-developed world of thought, confused and sensory and wanting in all the same ways you are. Once I see that, I can’t unsee it. I can’t go back to seeing them as players, and so I can’t divide them into neat categories that would make it all easier. Yeah, these are words on a page that convey some of my thoughts on knowing and wanting. But I’m sure they aren’t Grace-specific. I’m sure they’re universal in some way, and so do they really make a dent? Does it change the way you see me or am I still just a supporting character? (Is it supposed to? What if I’m just the person you’re meant to bump into on the sidewalk one day, or catch a glimpse of, or have in a random class? Clearly I’m not meant to be important to everybody, even though that has the ability to hurt sometimes.)
Last night, a friend suggested I try meditation and I said I already had about twenty minutes per day that I just stared off into space lost in my thoughts. She said, no, that wasn’t the point, the point was to not think at all. And I said I just wasn’t sure that would work because I could never turn off my thoughts. Someone else laughed and said yeah, meditation was not for me.
But how can I help being in a crowded place and being fascinated by all the people whirling around me? Being drawn in by the humanness of this all? That definitely makes me high-maintenance sometimes, but it doesn’t feel like a conscious choice to be this invested in the way everything turns out.
(Everything I’m writing feels corny, but I don’t mean it to be. I’m just trying to put it into words, whatever it is.)