I went out dancing with some friends. We went to see a couple bands I’d never heard of who turned out to be decent ska/reggae.
All night I flashbacked to a time in my early 20s.
I’d gone to see a reggae band and some guy with dreads was teaching me how to “reggae dance.” I was a hippie chick back then and had some flowery, flowing moves, so getting low and swaying my hips to the reggae rhythms didn’t come naturally to me. Anyway, I think the guy just wanted to grind up against my nubile body, so I didn’t spend much time in that dance lesson with him.
It was a moment in time I didn’t even realize was taking up space in my long-term memory bank until last night. Weird, right? I guess music and movement has an incredibly primal ability to trigger stuff.
This deep memory hit me as I moved my body around in what might be classified as dancing, but I’m not sure. I don’t get out that much anymore, since having kids. It is hard to find a sitter, for one thing, and then staying out late and having a couple drinks is rarely worth the exhausting aftermath the next day. The extent of my skankin’ these days is living room frolics to Bob Marley with my kids. The last time I went out to hear live music (also ska, coincidentally) was about a year and a half ago. Gasp! I used to go out dancing at least once or twice a week before marriage and kids. I also used to go to the gym. . . but I digress.
Sure, I am tired today, but it was worth it. Lots of laughs were had, the cocktails flowed, and my body found its way back into the music. It felt liberating to get a little lost doing the groove thing.
I even dressed up- something I haven’t done in ages. I wore a “little black dress,” lacy tights, and boots. I straightened my hair so it looked a bit longer than usual, and put on a generous amount of black eye liner and crimson lipstick. Even my husband did a double take! I joke with friends that I am “bringing sexy back” because I bought a few dresses. The truth about that is now I am done whipping out my breast at all hours of the day, dresses are not a total inconvenience anymore, and they do make me feel feminine and pretty again. For me, there is a sort of weird dichotomy in being both a mom and sexy, so integrating the two is interesting.
The highlight of my night was when one of my single friends was chatting up a young man. He introduced himself to me and I mentioned that it was my friend’s first time hearing live ska. The guy expressed surprise and joy that I actually knew what ska was, which I guess not too many in his generation know. Incredulously, I told him, well I’m almost old enough to have been around since the birth of ska, so. . . He said, “No way! What are you like 27?” I laughed and told him my age. Impressed, he told me I looked great. It was the first time I ever felt like a cougar!
You see, I’ll be 40 in about six months. It’s got me thinking about age and life and changes. I know it is just another day, but it seems like in this whole maiden, mother, crone continuum, 40 is kind of the gate way to crone-dom. I only recently entered the “mother” phase of things, so I guess I am not quite ready to switch gears. Hence my urgency to bring sexy back, to prove that I am still young at heart, vital, exciting, and fun.
It also has me doing a lot of reflecting on my life. Memories are rising and flooding me, like the one in the club about the reggae dancing. But some of the memories are not altogether pleasant. Some of them have to do with poor choices I’ve made, or really bad behavior I’ve had towards others.
On one hand, I could say I spent a lot of time quite frivolously. For example, there was a time during which I was courting four people at once, which wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that all of them were in various stages of marriage. This kind of drama permeated my 20s. This realization filled me with shame and anger at myself and I wonder what price karma will have me pay, or if maybe some of the other tragedies in my life were the payment already.
On the other hand, everything I have done and experienced has brought me to where I am today, so maybe my path has been exactly the path on which I’ve needed to be. Because at the end of the day, where I am now is pretty good. Regardless of all my struggles with career and money and parenthood, where I am is love.
It also makes me wonder what was so great about being young and screwed up and lonely, other than that body that wouldn’t quit, stamina to dance all night, and the freedom to do so?
I’m thinking of writing a novel. But maybe that is just the midlife crisis talking.
What is a midlife crisis anyway? I’m beginning to think that for me it is an integration of who I am now with the good pieces of who I was before. For example, my nurturing and conservative mother-self meeting up with the colorful hippie chick with a huge heart and awesome moves on the dance floor. My family-oriented-self getting reacquainted with the free-spirited and independent poet who could sit for hours alone in a cafe or go out to a movie all alone.
Aging seems to be this huge, hot melting pot that has colored and shaped me. In some lights you can really see the worry around my eyes, or the laugh lines by my lips. Tilted at the right angle, you can see the turquoise satin of poetry is still there. If you look straight on you see that I’ve grown soft and pudgy and plain, but in the flickering light on the dance floor, there she is! The agile kid with lithe limbs who still has reggae moves deep in her veins.