Laundry's in the wash, sun is pouring through my bedroom window, and noodle soup with fish balls is being heated in my microwave. It's a good morning; I woke an hour ago from a crazy rambling dream that had me back on move-in day as a student in a mix of people and places from the past 10 years. So I slung a backpack on and walked out of IMSA's dorms - I bunked with my high school roommate and two middle-school friends, in this dream - and down a set of steps lifted straight from Olin's campus, where I caught up with a bunch of current Oliners and some FOSS colleagues.
Everyone was the age they are now, doing what they're doing now; I talked with my high school roommate about her upcoming wedding, asked my middle school buddies about law school and what it's like to be a linguistics grad student - but it was also full of the same puppy-like chaos I loved about move-in day; doors slamming, people upending boxes onto mattresses, the earnest discussions about how to shuffle limited furniture around a limited space, catching up with friends in brief, intense conversations; running out while your desk is still littered with crates of office materials to help a friend carry his suitcase in, happy voices, music spilling into hallways, standing in a doorway and chatting while your friends pin posters to their walls.
School's an immersive experience for me. It's a place of learning that you live in. That everyone around you lives in. Learning is your purpose for being, your object in doing, not something to be compartmentalized off into N-hours-a-week on the side. Move-in day, for me, feels like coming home - and it's something you do with other people. It will be odd to move into an Indiana apartment instead of a dorm, just the two of us, the timing more about when my car pulls into town than when a calendar allows students on campus. I guess I need to change my expectations of what school means, what a school can be. Or maybe that's why academia sometimes feels like it's calling me home, though I feel an equal compulsion to step out of it, so I can scout and bring things to and from the world of schools and learning.
Went blues dancing on Friday for the first time in a while, and mmm, it
sure felt good. I'm getting bolder with my dancing - that night, I tried to get myself to look at my partners instead of gazing shyly at my feet, the wall, anything. It worked. It was uncomfortable, but it was the sound of my shyness crackling away, inhibitions that shouldn't be there flaking off. Leads are starting to repeatedly ask me out onto the floor, and I'm doing dips and lifts - deep, throw-your-head-back dips, both-feet-off-the-ground dips, lifts... each time it happens, it surprises me, because I was always the one looking at the girls who could do those things, follow those things, and wishing I could move like that but not being able to imagine my awkward, inhibited body move that way. But... now I can. And now I do. Wow.
Last night, on a whim, I followed a food truck's tweets to a lawn concert on the edge of Raleigh, a funk band playing on a makeshift stage in front of a loft apartment. After consuming the burger I'd gone there to get, I saw a few people standing near the stage, dancing a little - maybe 5 out of the 200 or so people on the grass watching and listening. Now, funk is very danceable. You can totally blues to it. But nobody up there looked like they knew blues, and I didn't know anyone...
Come on, Mel, I told myself. You're trying to learn how to take risks and not be timid and be more like all those bold, brave people you admire. I figured, okay, logic: if you did know someone here, then you could dance with them - or they'd know that you did dance and they'd cheer you on, at least. And if you don't know anybody here, either they'll see you again or they won't; if they see you again, don't you want them to think whoa, it's that girl who danced totally fearlessly at that concert! and if they don't see you again, what do you care what they think of you? Your feet are itching, your body wants to move; go dance.
And I did. I put my soda can down and went right to the edge of the flashing lights and moved. Most of the time, I was at least somewhat self-conscious. But there were moments where I wasn't, and those... felt wonderful. I only lasted half an hour before my shyness recapitulated and I grabbed my soda and strode out of the light, out of the concert while I could do it without timidity, and the magic faded as the music sank further away, and I slumped into my car seat, misted with sweat, heart chugging at a steady clip slightly higher than usual, feeling good, a little proud, a little lonely. It sure takes a lot of energy to build a life somewhere, but I'm doing better these days.
Today is full of meetings, teaching, orientation, lessons, awesomesauce. It's been a while since I had a busy day - a meaningfully busy day, filled with things that make a difference and push my limits, not just things-to-do for the sake of doing-things. I expect this will be a most satisfying day, and that when it's all over I'll want to relax and unwind with some Limonata (okay, okay, San Pellegrino is awesome) and some long and lazy conversations. Mmmm.