Hard stuff: The Truth, Charleston, and Doing It Anyway

My brain (and limbs) have been absolutely all over the place this weekend, so what follows will sort of be too. Bear with me. It pretty much ties together.

I had my citizenship party on Friday night, during which something like 30-40 people from every corner of my life were in the same room in a bar. I barely spoke to anyone for longer than 5 minutes at a stretch because: big parties. But it was great to have SO many different people there drinking and mixing and celebrating (and eating a lot of brownies).

At some point near the start of the night, I had a brief conversation about The Impending Big Trip during which the phrase ‘this trip gets shorter every time I talk to you’ was used. As well as ‘That’s how they get you!’ when discussing work and money and possible promotions and all that rubbish.

Before I had time to think about it properly, I was whisked into another completely different conversation. But by the end of the night it had rolled around enough in my head that I went to sleep thinking THAT’S ME TOLD.

It’s like the frog in the cold pot of water slowly coming to the boil. Or something like that. I’ve been getting dragged, bit by bit, into the security of money. Without even realising it. And yeah, that kind of security is important to some people and that’s cool. But I have no one to support but me, and work drives me nuts at the best of times. The day job was never the plan. The plan was to save the money and throw that security to the wind. I’ve been shying away from that. I have been slowly CHICKENING OUT.

This is my keychain. Seriously. I SHOULD LOOK AT IT MORE OFTEN.
This is my keychain. Seriously. I SHOULD LOOK AT IT MORE OFTEN.

Saturday night I went to a social dance and was then convinced to come to the second half of a weekend of workshops with Ksenia Parkhatskaya on solo Charleston, Jazz and Blues. I had never intended to go because I figured I’d be flattened from the effects of my party-time drinkin’. But I had mostly recovered by Saturday night, and Ksenia’s performance at the dance as well as my friends’ raving about that day’s classes was enough to convince me I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity.

So I spent Sunday learning some pretty advanced 20s Charleston all morning. It was FUCKING HARD. I think I sweat enough to fill Loch Ness. I was confused and lost most of the time. It was fast and impressive and frustrating and utterly, utterly brilliant. And the Jazz and Blues workshops in the afternoon were equally mind-bending, if not quite as sweaty.

My confusion was nothing to do with the teaching – Ksenia was a fantastic teacher. I’d like to know where she gets the endless reserves of energy from because after having danced like mad all weekend, she still looked fresh as a daisy. She was fun and lovely and SO good.

The frustration lies in the fact that the moves are difficult, and despite having been doing the whole swing dance thing for a while now, I am still not super great on rhythm. It’s a difficult thing to learn. I’m way better than I was a year ago, but you just have to do these things over and over and over to get any better at them.

If you want to be a writer you have to write, if you want to be a dancer you have to dance. And you have to do it badly for a long time before you do it remotely well. Like that Ira Glass quote. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough. And that is a hard thing to do. Especially when you’re tired and you feel your feet are gonna fall right the hell off. (Because TWISTING. My god. And I don’t even want to think about how I’m gonna feel tomorrow morning. If I can walk at all it’ll be a miracle.)

I went through these waves of discouragement and motivation all day in my head during these classes. I’d lose the beat or the steps and get completely frustrated. I’d pick it back up but only a little bit and lose it again. I’d get completely down on myself about it and want to give up. But not REALLY. Just in that way your brain feels like it canNOT cope with another variation on something you haven’t even got the basics of down yet anyway. And then it would get faster. And then I’d just try to go with it the best I could and push through the fact that I was not going to nail it. And that is totally ok.

My downstairs neighbours are going to start to truly hate me because I will be practising this shit all over my flat (once I can move my ankles again anyway). And I will be kind of crap at it. And I will NEVER be as good as Ksenia, but that is not a problem. I will get better than I am. And I’ll be better as a human for all the working at it.

All of this Doing Hard Stuff along with the realisation that I was getting too comfortable with the security of money over the things I actually want to do kicked me back into high gear on the travel prep. I need to get out of this flat. I need to store most of my earthly possessions (after getting rid of a bunch of them). I need to get out and explore. It’s going to be frustrating and hard but it will be SO MUCH BETTER than sitting around in the safe, boring world of a job with a pension and benefits and a flat and all that. And I have other kinds of security. I have the power of not one, but two countries behind me. Two embassies to call in a travel crisis!

But more importantly, I have the kind of security no money or nationality can buy: There were nearly 40 people out celebrating with me on Friday, and those were just the ones who live in this country and could make it. I know the most AMAZING people, here and around the world. That is no exaggeration. Even my newest friends are just so fucking awesome I can barely contain myself about it. They are all Just. Great. And all of these friends I have are incredibly lovely and smart and helpful and supportive, and I have no doubt I could count on so many of them in a crisis. I HAVE counted on so many of them in a crisis. I am so unbelievably lucky I could explode. I cannot overstate that.

In a world of things to worry about (and I do worry a lot), it does me some good to be reminded every once in a while that I needn’t be so concerned because I’ve got the really important stuff covered. I must be doing something more than brownies right.

So here I am, sucking it up and remembering the frustration is better than the cash. Here I am in the bit of the class where I stumble through all the scary, hard stuff where I know I look like a total wreck but I HAVE to keep going. Here I am getting quotes for self-storage and negotiating how moving out of my flat will work at the end of the year. (Yes, I have done all of these things in the past 48 hours.) Here I am finding the money. Feeling the terror and doing it anyway.

I might well need a foot massage in the morning though. Eesh.

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