At 5-years old I mimicked my sister's hitch kicks to New Kids on the Block. At 9-years old I joined my first jazz class. I learned how to tap dance when I was a Follie Girl my freshman year in our production of Crazy for You. My senior year I danced to Kanye West so hard in my parent's living room that my knee popped out of place causing me to scream, my mom to think I somehow got shot in our gun-free house and my dad to think quick and pop it back into place. Point is, dancing has always been somewhere in the background of my life. But this past year, dance has been itching to take a step forward. Dancing no longer asks permission. Now, I have to dance.
When I explain to people how I am 'sexually peaking', their minds immediately travel down south to Dirtyville. Who? What? Where? When? How many times? All fun stories to tell, but the truth is, those stories wouldn't even exist without the presence of dance. My sexual peak would fall flat if I was not lifting myself and my confidence through my own movements. But that wasn't always the case. I may have learned how to Pas de bourrée and step-ball-change when I was 5, but I only just learned how to let myself go.
I remember the various dance classes I took over the years. Surrounded by mirrors, forced to look at myself and others. Comparing, competing, pointing farther, looking sharper, flexing flexier. I'd turn bright red when we had to work on our stretches as I hunched over my sad split. More embarrassing than helpful. Now if there is a mirror in the room when I dance, I try not to look. I dance to feel, not to perfect. To quote Shania Twain, when I dance 'I feel like a woman.' But not a woman burned by man or her boss or a bad hair day. I feel like woman - the creature.
Did I lose you? I've never been to Burning Man (although I fear that will change in the next few years) and every time I have to do a group sigh or breathing exercise I roll my inner eye. I'm still sarcastic and snarky when it comes to mindfulness. But now, more than both of those combined, I'm super sensual. When I dance I can't help but feel the sexual, female force within me that, until recently, only a vibrator has been able to bring out. Now I am unplugged, battery-free and using nothing but my body to create feelings of ecstasy. I feel pretty fucking grateful.
I'm also grateful because this year I found people that love dancing as much as I do. I found music that makes me feel primal. I found people that embrace all these things without so much a molecule of judgement. Thank you. In their absence I dance alone in my bedroom as my dog watches skeptically without interruption. Thank you, Remy. I dance when I am frustrated or sad or angry when the leader of our country proves himself a monster once again. Thank you, dance.
I've recently started dancing with my hair down. It gets stuck in my mouth, my eyes, it sticks to my sweating neck sometimes even trapping itself between my armpits. Afterwards, only then will I make a point to look myself in the mirror. Sometimes I look like some sort of goddess. Sometimes I look down right crazy. I see the shape of my lips outlined by the red lipstick I obsessively wear. I see my face aging in certain ways. I see my hair growing. I see the same freckles I've had since a child but now the freckles mark the face of a woman. I also see my blemishes, my tears, my brow when I'm pissed. My life isn't perfect. I am not perfect. But it has taken until now to truly love this woman I see. I love the woman I have become. The woman that my body has allowed me to become (despite still being unable to do a split).
I always knew for my 30th birthday I wanted to travel somewhere. It came down to either a weekend in Oahu or a weekend in New Orleans. In the end, because I would be traveling solo, New Orleans won. I'm not scared or opposed to traveling solo (my most famous solo trip being to Thailand) but I figured a solo weekend in Hawaii may be a touch too Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
My 30th birthday was October 29th. I had an early flight to NOLA the day after on the 30th with a layover in DC. I waited in line at Dunkin Donuts for a pink frosted donut. I was cutting it close with time as I always do when flying. I see no need in boarding a plane more than 30 minutes before takeoff. That time is meant for nervously peeing. My boarding pass didn’t have a seat number so when I went to board I waited for my assignment. They scanned my ticket. ‘Oh.' he said. 'We have a great seat for you.’
'What do you mean? What's going on?' I nearly screamed as he handed me my new ticket.
I looked at the ticket: 1F. 1F. 1F. I memorized it as I walked towards the plane. 'It can't be.' I didn't want to get my hopes up. My heart rate quickened when I saw the entrance. I peaked in. There was 1F. The first seat I saw. The first seat in the plane. First fucking class. I was trying so hard to keep it together. I kept apologizing and repeating 'I'm sorry. It’s my first time!' so much that I probably sounded like a prom queen on prom night.
Everyone around me was already casually reading or sleeping. I never understood how people who board barely 10 minutes before everyone else look like they were the original American Airlines settlers. How does one tuck a blanket under them so quickly?!
The last few people that boarded walked by and I made sure to smile and make them feel welcomed. I thought back to my days in coach and the disgusted first class looks that make me want to scream in my best Katniss Everdeen impression, 'Your seatbelt may be buckled before me but you are not better than me!' I refused to become one of them.
In first class, things are just as sticky as they are in coach but it's a special kind of sticky. It's your sticky. I quickly realized how much easier flying is in first class. I had all the leg room a 30 year old gal with a bad knee could want. I even had two windows. I kept looking at the woman next to me, like 'Whoa! Check us out!' She didn't look up. The pre-flight anxieties I usually felt were nonexistent. I was too busy taking pictures and tweeting and Instagramming that before the flight even took off my battery was down to 40%.
In first class, if you ask how much anything is, flight attendants will give you a ‘Bitch, please.’ look. They will especially laugh at you when you order a tomato juice and vodka instead of ordering a Bloody Mary like a big girl. I kept looking to my neighbor for help. 'Ohhh. So that’s where you put your drink!' When my free breakfast (which was hot and not served in plastic wrapping) arrived, she and the flight attendant had to help open the tray for me. I had to remind myself that although I may not be able to open a first class tray table, I was still an excellent parallel parker.
Before we arrived in New Orleans I remembered about the pink frosted donut I purchased. A reminder of my old self, back when I was a dumb, normal person on land. I took a bite and as expected, it was stale. I ate it anyway because that's what you do in first class. You indulge.
And indulge in New Orleans I did. I ate, I drank, I drank, I made friends and I even got a bruise on my knee. I was ready to go back to New York with my new confident attitude. I had another layover and again, my second ticket didn't have a seat number. 'Here we go!' I thought. 'First class coming through!' Except this time, the person who scanned my ticket wasn't excited for me. 'That's weird.' I thought. Don't they know I'm a 30 year old bad bitch with a fresh bruise on my knee?
I boarded the plane and my seat assignment was nowhere in sight. At least not up front. 'So they're giving me business class this time. That's fiiiiine!' I continued walking. And walking. And walking. Finally my seat showed it's face. It's sad, next to the bathroom, last seat on the plane face. I laughed as I always do when the universe puts me back into my place.
My surprise first class flight may have been barely two and half hours but it was the perfect beginning to a decade I had been unnecessarily dreading. I still don't know how or why I was put there but I will forever speak only good things about American Airlines. You hear that, AA?? Good things!