Friday, July 06, 2007

Dancing Like I Belong




After yesterday's carry on I am feeling fragile. I have not slept well. BBC News 24 provides neither white noise or intellectual engagement. I wander through a cold, too empty house hemmed in by fog and heavy damp air that seems to make every breath a challenge. In this state, I know only too well that I am prone to acute homesickness, but even with my sensors on, it hits me hard when I read a friend's blog about cicadas. The cicadas have had their 17-year cycle and in that reading I develop a crick in my neck as I lean in to hear the annoying whine-whir of their frantic lifespan. I ache to feel the heat of a summer evening rolling up from the baked pavement as I walk to a coffee shop or bookstore.

In the vacuum of that ache comes the question: what am I doing here so far from cicadas and coffee shops and bookstores and sun baked sidewalks and corn stalks rattling in the moonlight?

"Connect to those things that first attracted you" to this new life comes the antidote voice.

I pop a CD of lively Scottish music purchased from a fresh-faced young Orkney girl who explained that she is part of the school group whose music I heard in the tourist shop. As I purchase the CD, I promise to listen especially to the violin, her instrument. The CD had been lost in the car which is being traded in. Like the prodigal cat and the would-be errant laptop case, this CD has come back to me just in time.

The first chords galvanize my fragmented self: a faint smile unites my rising spirit and my feet move with a bit more animation. I can now face the dishes in the sink and the laundry that needs shifting. Although the house is still a desperate case, the music bouncing out of the little pink CD player from Woolies in the corner of the kitchen is a lifeline, an umbilical cord, a unifying theme for the little girl with brown eyes who became the weekend folk dancer as a teenager and a dance gypsy later in life and then a Scottish dancer.


Dancing is an integral part of life up here. Ceilidhs ("kay lees") can be social occasions without music or without dancing, but a ceildih dance is fairly common. Some of the dances, like some of the words, were almost familiar as I struggled to learn the new steps. I also struggled to remember how to dance with a partner. Dancing with a partner, for me, is an act of faith. I once loved a man with whom I created beautiful waltzes. When that waltzing ended, I never expected to dance that way again. Stray cats hiss when good things happen to them either because they can't believe that something good is happening, or, that it will last. Apparently I had felt more like a stray cat than I wanted to admit.


The day I received my Indefinite Leave to Remain stamped onto my passport, we were scheduled to go to a ceilidh--a dancing ceilidh. Perhaps it was the little addition to my blue passport that had the effect of Dumbo's magic feather: Dumbo could fly; I could dance. My husband and I flowed around the room and twirled in the close symmetry of couples on the tops of old-fashioned music boxes.


In between dances we talked with people that I genuinely knew. By the time the last band set up to play, the dance floor was pretty much empty. The music was one of those irrestible Irish tunes--lively to the point of manic with complex rhythms that range from fast to faster. I persuaded my husband on to the dance floor, but as the tempo picked up, he simply said, "Go for it." I demurred only for an instant and then the music took hold. I danced without thinking whether I belonged or not. When I finished, the band applauded; the people around the room applauded and our friends teased us.


All that came tumbling out of the tinny speakers of my little pink Woolies CD player to lift the heavy damp air and remind me why I was here.




9 Comments:

At 9:54 AM, Blogger scorrie said...

wow we must waltz again as soon as we can // too empty house will fill again too //scorrie //

 
At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i fully understand about being homesick. i doubt i would have had a single thought about caithness if i hadnt met the man that brought me up here. i miss the green colour of my natural enviroment. this washed out bleached countryside seems to do nothing for me except make me sad.

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger Gabriel Harley said...

Lovely and lyrical.

I do hope there's a more concentrated expression of these experiences en route.*

gh


*translation: you ARE writing a book, aren't ya?

 
At 6:36 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Dear Anonymous, thank you for yr comments on my blog. I am sorry about yr homesickness. There is a group of women that get together Weds morn about 11am in Holborn Hotel, Thurso. If you can, come stop by. I can't be there this Weds, but you are most welcome. They are a lively bunch and can give you some good suggestions about how to find the joy in this place. There is color in Caithness!

 
At 6:38 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Hello, Gabe! Gee it is good to hear from you. Thank you for lvoely comments. Yes, I am thinking of bookifying my essays. Thank you for vote of confidence. Boy, you are so busy. I read also about comp pedagogy. I remember that course all too well!

 
At 7:06 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

I often seem to stumble into a general malaise. Usually I can cook my way out of it, but often I end up huddled at the 'puter, disconsolately looking for comfort. It feels like homesickness, but its missing a home that has always eluded me.

 
At 1:21 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

Oh, memories of dancing to Dog Talk--whether together, alone, or with strangers or strangers who are friends when we start to dance together. Boom Boom . . . It happens every day. Boom Boom. Boom shik-uh Booom shik-uh.

 
At 6:00 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Hayden, malaise can catch us anywhere. Homesickness is incurable because it is as you surmise looking for something that never really was.

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, Amy, dancing to Dog Talk what a great recollection. Oh I could use that here for sure. We have a beautiful day today. It would be a perfect evening for wine and dancing in the Bier Garten.
Instead I am trying to figure out how to lower lawn mower blades and trying to screw up courage to take on weeds, including very aggressive thistles as tall as I am.

 

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