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

Presence

By the time I stepped outside the airplane terminal in New York last night, the air was fuzzy with dampness, and I found the rain had stopped. Today is all wispy clouds and blue sky; I am inside working amongst the mess of my incomplete unpacking, and I wonder if I'll ever get it together. It took me forever to get home from dance practice last night - my usual line is under construction and so I rode three different lines before I made it home, and hour late and much wearied. Ben gave me The Poisonwood Bible over the weekend, and I read it with memories of my time on that massive continent ringing behind my eyes; instead of the mosaic of the subway and its mud-grey tracks, I see red dust. My own experience in that place grows paler with insignificance as time goes on.

My day passes in a rush of emails and drafts. It amazes me that I can still sit here and write this blog post. All day I've been writing and editing - I spent 10 hours in Microsoft Word today. Some of my dancer friends today laughed at me when I exclaimed, "I love writing utensils!" but it is the truth. Writing and dancing are the two things that come most naturally to me, and oddly enough they are also the two things that I torture myself the most about. Like so many things, they represent the pursuit of unattainable perfection, the opportunity for a lifelong pursuit. The dance studio is packed today and I cannot really move the way I want to; after three hours I slink home, feeling humbled and small.

Over the weekend I read my latest issue of Esquire Magazine. I like the witty, intelligent writing. I like the personalities. One of the features was a series of interviews called "What I've learned." Other than the witticisms and the occasional head-scratchers, there are very few lessons that I can understand without having gone through them myself. But here was one: Petra Nemcova, a supermodel/actress who was caught in the tsunami, who watched her fiance be carried away and drowned, and whose nonprofit rebuilds schools after natural disasters said, "Before the tsunami, I always looked to the future. Always had millions of lists of things to do. If I were talking to you, I would not be here. I would be thinking of something that was coming up." I was thinking about this, because I know that some people meditate, or do yoga, to help themselves be more present. For those of us who love dancing, it is the movement and the music that puts it in the present. I love to draw out different timings, I enjoy the sensation of moving, I am, and that is enough. We should all learn from tragedies, but God forbid it takes tragedies for us to learn anything.

January comes to its close. On Friday, I will have been in New York for exactly three months. My roommate, who has been in the city for seven years, sometimes kvetches about living here and then says "you're still new, it's not like that for you yet." I'm okay with that, with being the new kid on the block. It's enough that I feel like I'm home.
Tags: ballroom dance
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