I married a dancer.
Let me clarify: I did not marry a man classically trained in the art of ballet or jazz or ballroom, but I married a man whose insides rhythmically know how to move. His heart pulsates and pumps a beat that flows from his deepest self, electric movements that wiggle and worm their way to the ends of his fingers, his head, his toes.
Take, for instance, a wedding: this summer we found ourselves cheering on Cousin and Cousin-in-law at their June nuptials. At thirty-four weeks’ pregnant, I nearly upstaged the bride with my protruding, “Holy crap, is she going to go into labor?” belly, upon performing my marry-and-bury duties. (Well, the marrying part, that is). But, as happens at nearly every wedding my husband attends, the other guests did not go home thinking about the potential of my water breaking. They went home thinking about the HBH’s (Hot Black Husband’s) dance skills.
For he’s the one who befriends the DJ so he can get a Michael Jackson song played.
He’s the one who packs special dancing shoes just for the occasion.
He’s the one whose bald head drips with beads of sweat, whose Thriller-like moves part the waters, whose mid-air jumps create a circle of envy around him.
As wedding guests, we wait not for the cake to be cut, but for the boom of the speakers to begin. This is when we’re most alive, when our defenses are down and laughter is up and anger is pushed aside.
This is when I’m most proud.
Because dancing at weddings is just the icing on the cake, but the bulk of it happens most every night in our living room.
The ritual began a year or two ago when we began learning about bed time routines for our older son, Cancan. Parents, we read, should establish a nightly routine for their young child, incorporating bath time or book reading or song-singing religiously. And we’re like, we get it. Bring on Goodnight Moon, again. But in an effort to knock out any remaining energy the little one still had within him, we also added dancing to the mix. Flipping on the kids’ station, Pharrell Williams and Kelly Clarkson and Justin Beiber became a part of our Normal, Ordinary Everyday.
And I tell you, there’s something about standing up after you’ve digested Micha’s Chinese tofu salad for dinner, in between sips of an earthy Pinot Noir. You forget about the long commute you had, the hours you spent in Bay Area traffic, waiting, waiting, waiting. You put aside frustrations of not having enough or being enough or loving enough, and you just enter in to the dance. You embrace the moment and you feel its force, even if you look a little silly and can’t stop the giggles. You wonder bemusedly at your four-month-old’s ability to kick stocky legs to the 1-2-3-4 rhythm, and you hold sticky hands with your toddler, twirling and kicking and bopping to the beat. And as you look at the man in front of you, head tilted back, eyes smiling, joy abounding, you say a hearty Yes, Yes, Yes all over again.
Because sometimes the most boring of rituals make the story deeper.
They speak to our values, to embracing the moment, laughing and playing and being together.
They’re the things we do, even when we don’t feel like it because we know, when we look back on these years, on these memories, that we’ll be glad we entered into this tradition again …and again …and again.
For they tell the story of Who We Are, of our deepest selves, of how we fight for freedom as we cherish the parts that make up the whole.
So friends, enter into the ritual. Enter into Rituals, our theme for Guest Post Tuesdays this coming year. I can’t wait for you to hear from a crew of talented writers – some old, some new – and learn from the ordinary, everyday stories that happen in living rooms and kitchen tables and on walks to the bus stop alike.
Join us, will you?
What’s a so-called boring ritual in your life that tells a much deeper story? What traditions speak to your YOU-ness? And, how about joining us for tomorrow night’s dance party?0