i boarded the train at 9:38 am on thursday and it sped south toward olympia with the same straight-forward determination i felt. it was something along the lines of "get me the hell out of here." perhaps not the warm and sappy thoughts a mother "should" have about leaving her family for three nights away, but then in many ways i don't feel like most mothers.
if there was a twinge of my heart aching it was hard to hear over the sizzling of my nerves after two weeks on my own with the boys while my husband and boss were away- leaving me to find places and people for my sons to be with while i worked for a depressing wage. so while i do love my family and i do love my job...i loved leaving them too.
during the train ride i smirked at the overheard conversations of men drinking bloody marys, introducing themselves as "mobile entertainment technicians" which makes being a carnie sound like it requires a degree and lamenting about the loss of the sonics to another city- and the sad reality that even if the sonics did come back they would never be loved again. it wasn't particularly interesting conversation under normal circumstances but it was entirely different than the usual and so it was interesting to the point that i began recording their sentences in my journal to savor for later.
the purpose of my trip was to get away and the means to this end was a 5Rhythms workshop at Waves Studio- a place I had spent many hours blissed-out, battling myself, building friendships that counter the closest of family ties. blood is thicker than water, but shared sweat rivals blood bonds most definitely.
i danced Thursday and Friday evenings at the studio, each night for two hours and had breakfast plans for saturday morning- and here's where the tale really begins. over eggs and tortillas i learn that a friend of a friend- sitting to my right- has a deck of tarot cards in his pocket. i watch as two others pull one card as a sort of guide or symbol of that moment, their day. the deck is beautiful with muted warm earth toned illustrations that have a vague feeling of munche or toulouse. i watch each person before me draw queens, the later one a perfectly symmetrical drawing of one woman with one cup, beautiful and regal.
this reminds me of the last time i drew a card in olympia, about four years prior when i was pregnant with Small Son. i sat on the living floor of marie's and "asked" the deck about my unborn child. specifically i wanted to know what gender my baby was. the first card i pulled a knight with a long sword. i slapped it down and pushed it aside. i tried again. another sword. and again. more swords. i then flipped through the deck to ensure there were some feminine images, and yes of course there were- but none had touched my fingers. all i had drawn were true to him- my second son.
so when i decided to pull a card on saturday morning i was confident the deck would show me what i needed to see. i pulled out a card and gazed at it. my first thought was "she looks like me!" and then i laughed to see how completely wobbly the card was. the image was of a woman with a light pink derby on with wavy blond hair and uneven eyes. it seemed that she was looking straight on with her right eye while her left looked far off to her side. in front of her was a thin infinity sign with a red pentacle in the center of each loop- at first glance it looked like she was roping them up in a rodeo. the blue sky was above her and around her was water.
i described what i saw to my new friend- a fiery man with small round spectacles that intensified his eyes even more so than his observant nature. he listened carefully and then pointed out that she was indeed surrounded by water and that perhaps she was in a boat. he mentioned, almost casually the need for balance, although his warm eyes looked at me meaningfully like a teacher willing a student to "get it."
balance. ah yes. what i seek, what i miss, what i need. in all aspects of my life i often feel out-of-balance. too much this, not enough that. within my own self, in my relationship, as a mother, as a human it feels that i often am struggling to redistribute tasks, thoughts, needs to be more balanced. coming to the dance was an attempt to right myself a bit- to figure out how to balance a job, homeschooling kids, working on my marriage, having a garden, serving on a board, and the keeping the house from falling into complete ruin, laundry pile first.
coming to the dance is always about this.
so dance i did. i danced furiously, curiously, drastically, bombastically. i danced through so many flavors of joy and fear, celebration and indignation, opening and closing....and then right back to fear. the deepest, darkest fear my body has ever held. the fear i think i have "gotten over" only to have her slide up beside me and unsettle me all over because this fear isn't based on a shadow, but a truth i have felt in my exploding lungs and hurting heart- even though i cannot recall the details with my mind, these other organs scream protest, they scream witness.
the story goes that when i was a child- about 2 or 3- i fell into a swimming pool and sank. my brother, who is 4 years older than me, was my witness. he told me once, casually over dinner in vancouver, that when they pulled me up i was blue.
now, i could have dismissed this as a mis-memory on my brother's part- except that my body jolted with a clear recognition that was impossible to deny. years of swimming lessons all undone by the slightly splash of water on my face, the way my heart races if my feet do not touch bottom, the many hours it took to simple trust water enough to float in a pool four feet deep. the "click" of understanding a bit more about myself must have been audible that night.
but i had felt i had dealt with that old fear- until suddenly, while dancing- i was there again. alone, terrified, drowning in tepid water, frantic for someone to come and help me. which, of course, happened. someone did come and help me. i am here now. except for that small bit of me that is stuck somewhere in my past, trying to catch up with me, sending me messages like greeting cards across breakfast tables.
hours after my break down on the dance floor - oh yes, full on tantrum - i remembered the tarot card and reviewed the sketch i had done of her/me. then i noticed a few more things. i was in a boat. i was safely, securely in a boat. and i was not alone in the boat- someone was looking me in the eye and telling me that even if i lost balance and capsized, even if i sank like a chunk of granite, even if i grew terrified and forgot how to float and how to breath, that no matter what- i would not drown.