full-tilt Muse

Watch out: more than one post to the same blog in the same day. Zeus’s daughters must be dancing.

I never feel more alive than when I am away from home. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love coming home to relax, to unwind, to feel comfortable. Yet when I am away from home, on a vacation or at, say, a dance camp, suddenly I feel more alive. I get more exercise, I socialize more, I break with routine and I have to think more actively about what I’m doing in the present. Everything becomes more vibrant when you pay attention to the present in this way: feelings become more plaintive or even insistent, colors and shapes cannot be ignored. To speak plainly, life becomes an adventure.

Last summer, I attended a dance camp down near Lake Cumberland. I won’t tell you the whole story because it would be too long in the telling and would dredge up some stories that might better remain silent. Suffice to say, I remember that week more plainly than I remember anything from last month. I will share a moment of two of that week with you though.

As you might imagine, even with air conditioning you can get quite sweaty at a summer dance camp. During one of the breaks one day, a storm rolled through producing plenty of rain. As an introvert, normally I ignore impulses that might be embarrassing in public, but that day I felt the storm in me, and between the shirt wallpapered to my back and the chaotic emotions of the week I suddenly knew I needed to feel that rain. I went back to my room, stripped down to my fiery-jalapeno boxers and went out in the rain barefoot. Some of you might be well in-touch with your natural self and go swimming all the time, but perhaps some of you might know what I mean when I say it’s exhilarating to reconnect with your primal body once in a while, to feel grass and mud under your feet and to soak in the rain and sun and wind. I can still feel the cool rain bursting against my skin, running in rivulets down my body, feeling the breeze cooling and tickling me as my pores opened up, the rough concrete of the sidewalk and the coarse fur of the grass and squishy mud beneath my feet. I felt so very alive, like the waves of contentment and vibrancy that come after great sex. I don’t know how else to say it.

Another moment: I had gone with a group of mostly-younger people on a long night trek down to a boat dock on Lake Cumberland, one of the last things to happen at the end of the week. As I sit on the dock with a group of people, mostly teenagers, taking in the night and sharing long jokes with one-liner pun endings before settling into silence… a woman with us, closer to my age, put her hand out in the darkness to lean on and accidentally sat it on my leg. We’re both surprised, but the night is so deep and black that I can’t even see her facial expression next to me. I don’t move my leg away… and she doesn’t move her hand. The pressure and heat of her hand on my leg is electric. There’s nothing we can say really: we’re a few feet away from a passel of teenagers on a quiet night. I don’t even know how I feel about her, since all of our conversations have an arrhythmic quality where we don’t quite seem to be on the same frequency of our respective radios. She’s pretty though, caramel-colored skin and a nervous, energetic smile (that is, when there’s any light to see her with), and I’m content to feel the heat of attraction wash over me in the darkness as we have a private moment on a crowded pier. Maybe I should have pursued it further, but I had so many conflicted feelings at the end of that week that I didn’t keep in touch. She gave me her email address and now I can’t find the scrap of paper it was on. Such is life.

There are other stories I could tell you, stories about a blind contra and later a waltz in the rain (with the same girl, no less), a story about a crush that was struck down instead of blossoming, about the awkwardness of being a single guy at a family dance week, about drinking late at night with a married couple and how the wife began getting overly emotional, and a host of others. Perhaps some of those tales shouldn’t be told though, and maybe others I will share sometime.

cleansing rain
you strike my skin
you wash away
my doubt and sin
for who could doubt
or who could stray
as rain falls on a summer day

cleansing rain
you stir up mud
I reconnect
with earth and flood
my body and soul
are on display
as rain falls on a summer day

cleansing rain
you ease my heart
I offered love;
fear broke apart
yet this will pass
like stone to clay
as rain falls on a summer day

cleansing rain
you offer proof
that nature’s love
is not aloof
and sometimes pain
can ebb away
as rain falls on a summer day

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