Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin
cswallow

Molting

 
I start entries, leave them half-written, and tired. Pies without filling.

Misa tells me to day that I am "glowing." I grin back at her. It's usually something I hear when I fall in love. This time, though, the glow was of having danced yesterday in New York - a fantastic lesson, wonderful partnering, feeling all my training in Beijing start to pay off. Luckiness bouncing off me in waves.

Kristen and Derek exchanged marriage vows this weekend in Agawam, MA. The wedding was straightforward and Catholic. I forget what I am until the priest starts telling God to be with me, and then the autoresponses turn on. The reception, in a big building overlooking endless greenery and a watercolor sunset, was full of revelry. We stuffed ourselves silly, and then danced until the lights came on.

I remember most of all Kristen's dance with her dad. I couldn't stop thinking about how it wasn't so long ago that she was just a tiny baby, held in the curve of one hand that now cradled a grown woman's back. Something about that passage of time, and the crazy implication of "giving away" your daughter to another man (now so outdated by today's gender dynamic standards) got me something mean, and the waterworks turned on.

At some point in between "You're the One That I Want" from Grease and "Give me Everything" by Pitbull, I felt so sweetly the strength of friendship around me. There we were, in this little town in southwestern Massachusetts, a town where the local pizza joint is dedicated to the memory of a 25-year-old who passed away three years ago and that serves 6" froyos for a dollar, and where the locals look at you funny for walking through the door of the gas station in your best wedding clothes. We'd traveled from many different places, and here we were to celebrate this milestone event in the life of our own dear friends. Leaving, Rachael said, "It doesn't feel like we won't see each other again for months. It feels just like it always did."

Success, I thought when I woke up the next morning, is seeing the people around you become happy and satisfied in their own lives.

As so many of my classmates are now doing, I spend much time thinking about what I want out of my post-graduation experience. There will be ballroom dance, of course. But after that, what?

In Agawam, the trees are already beginning to change their leaves. In ecology class, we learn it is the way that trees prepare themselves for the winter - casting off these once-energetic generators before they sap the tree of the precious resources it needs to survive the rising cold. The air seems damp at night, leaning toward chilliness. On the bus ride from Springfield, Mass., to New York City, a ragged "V" of Canadian Geese followed us southward.

Annie Dillard wrote of the great restlessness of birds before migration. I feel in my bones that it is also my time to begin my own movement forward. Before birds take flight, they shed all their old feathers from head to tail. The damaged feathers with their broken vanes and unzipped barbules drift away. Systematically, quietly, and with an immense exertion of energy, new feathers come in.

I know that there are many days of exhaustion and uncertainty ahead. But there is also hope. So I am patient, I molt slowly, and then one feather at a time, prepare myself for the next long flight.

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