Dear lady in the purple legwarmers,
Today in Nia* you said something to me in passing, “You must love to dance.” I heard you say it. I wasn’t looking at your face but I heard you clearly.Those five words held more meaning than you will ever understand. Let me try to explain.
I am deaf.
I grew up hard of hearing. As a child I didn’t know the power of music. It melted together like sweet ice cream, pleasant but not distinct. And so I didn’t dance.
The Texas cotton bottoms where I grew up were home to some of the finest sawdust-covered floors in existence – beer smelling havens, rich with the twang of steel guitar and heartbreak that is my heritage, yet the only time I was brave enough to ever waltz across Texas was standing on the tops of my Daddy’s feet in our own living room.
In the sixth grade I was thrilled to receive a coveted invitation to Toby Higginbottom’s boy-girl dance. I studied all of the lyrics to the top forty hits. I picked an outfit out of Seventeen Magazine and endured an eye watering home perm. I walked in feeling like a teen dancing queen but spent the night applying layer upon layer of strawberry lip gloss locked in a bathroom stall alone.
I’ve spent much of my life holding up walls, observing from a distance. I would sway. I would tap a foot discreetly out of time. I would mouth words silently or bob my head with my blood wishy washing in my ears.
At my prom, at my own wedding, I did not dance.
After twelve years of profound deafness, I received bilateral cochlear implants. They bypass my broken ears, the electrode arrays send impulses to my brain. I have had many known CI complications and a few no one has ever heard of. I’ve been in pain, suffered through infections, had an internal device failure and several balance damaging surgical revisions. Yet, I would do it all over again because today in Nia I danced.
I heard the music and I danced.
After class I sat in my car and wept just as I now sit and weep as I write this note to you. Your casual observation caused me to reflect on how far I’ve come, the beauty I have found in music, in movement, and the joy I have found in life.
Thank you – thank you dear sweet lady in the purple legwarmers for noticing. I do love to dance.
Peace and blessings,
*”Nia is a sensory-based dance practice that leads to health, wellness and fitness. Nia draws from disciplines of the martial arts, dance arts and healing arts. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Classes are taken barefoot to soul-stirring music. Every experience can be adapted to individual needs and abilities. Step into your own joyful journey with Nia, and positively shape the way you feel, look, think and live.” from the Nia Now website. See it here on YOUTUBE