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

A New Kind of Life

From one city's interminable rush to another's bustle, with only the clear scent of lava fields in between - this is how I drift through the past week. I feel dropped, like a fostered kitten, from one home to another, and no concept of how the world has moved me. After a one-night layover in Reykjavik, Iceland, we will be spending nearly a week in this small part of London, which is the most time I've ever spent in one place while on "vacation." We move in to the hotel, struggle with the time zone change - one of us falls asleep at 8pm, the other at 12pm, one wakes at 2am, the other groggy until 11am - and wander about. And although this is vacation, it is also not. We are here to work, to dance, to learn, to grow, to change.

When I walk up the stairs to that studio for the first time, I see all the photos of every British championship winner is hanging on the wall, and my heart thunders. It is a reverence, like walking into a cathedral. On the floor at the top of the stairs, nearly all of the current top dancers in the world have danced a feather step. And even if nobody ever knows my name, years from now, I feel that by coming here I have somehow entered into the canon of everyone who has traveled the miles to learn from these coaches, to seek the holy grail of "understanding ballroom dance," people who knew they wanted to be dancers, who have saved up money to pour it into lessons, and spent every extra minute crafting their bodies into a better tool, making themselves into the dancer they envision they could be.

And although in these days we are living and breathing this dream of learning from some of the greatest coaches and dancers, we are also enjoying our time here. We float down the Thames to Hampton Court Palace, walk to Richmond Park and birdwatch, have a pint at an English pub, and try not to get run over by traffic going the "wrong way." We discuss what we are learning in our lessons, and then take time to ponder parks management, Henry the VIII's six wives, and the beauty of old brick buildings.

On all my past vacations, I always came in with a goal. Perhaps there was something I wanted to have learned about myself by the end, or perhaps I wanted to fully immerse myself in another culture. But on this trip, I became frustrated - my inner mind, the one of dreams and realizations, wouldn't speak to me. I can't bring myself to write in my journal, and though I'd been reading histories of these places (London, Iceland), most of the time I'd just been observing, feeling. Tonight, I've realized that my goal here is simply to better understand dance. This is not so much an adventure of the mind, of my life philosophy, or of family bonding time, as all my other vacations have been. It is a new creature entirely. It is exploration of how my mind can and will internalize ideas within my body. There have been so many decisions that led me to be here today with C, but somehow I feel that this week opens a new chapter entirely, and that I have no control of this momentum I have begun. I made the choice for this so long ago, and it is along these cobblestone sidewalks that I feel myself walking into a new kind of life.
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