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Oh Universe, how mysteriously you move.

"You look cute!" Tiffany all but shouted, interrupting her phone call to deliver this opinion to me in the crowded lobby. My friend Todd, escaping with me into an elevator, muttered, "She's trying to hook us up." I just laughed uncomfortably.

Comments on my post about Zumba made me grope a little harder to express why taking a dance[like] class was such a big deal for me. In a nutshell, I don't live in my body very much. I've made other attempts, I've made progress, but "overcoming the straitjacketing of physical shame is the hardest thing about going and practicing and re-trying."

To ground myself more reliably in the physical realm, I've taken extensive Alexander Technique lessons and have undergone a variety of body-based therapies (some of which I've written quite a bit about here). I've been a gym-bunny with 19% body fat, I've done theater and voice training, I've been a dedicated long-distance walker, and as everyone here knows, I've become an avid bike commuter.

But you know what?

The one thing I've been unable to integrate lies, not to put too fine a point on it, between my crotch and my belly-button. Of all the body parts I've dissed, that part is the most disembodied.

There's a marvelous scene in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell where Lady Pole, about to be released at last from her terrible enchantment, appears as two versions of herself, overlaid one on the other. One is her real self, dressed in red and black, furious and frustrated and alive and trapped in faerie magic; the other is the false magical projection which is all the normal world can see, dressed in white, withdrawn, listless and silent and seemingly quite mad. When her missing part, a stolen finger, is restored, the pale reflection vanishes and she emerges from the enchantment, angry enough to change the world.

I feel like I'm restoring my missing part1. Not that anything's missing or broken--the parts are physically there, and have proven themselves to be in working order--just that they aren't connected to my self. The pale facsimile that has lived my life calls herself unattractive and asexual, while the kidnapped prisoner shouts, "No! It's not true! I'm beautiful and filled with desire! Look at me!"

"Ignore me," says the facsimile. "I'm fine. Pay no attention."

I could spout a whole lot of psychobabble about how and why I became disconnected from my sexuality, but it's...boring, really. And irrelevant. It happened. At a point approximately fifty years ago, in an act of self-preservation, I decided--vowed, in a sense--to need nothing, to want no one, to contain myself and be fine.

Ironically, when a person has set herself up as entirely self-sufficient, it's almost inevitable that her careful and constant self-improvement-because-she-is-never-good-enough-as-she-is will lead her to discover the enchantment, the vow, and to realize that she's free to break it.

Margaret Lynch ties money and sexuality together2, and it was in listening to one of her success-coaching seminars the other day that I felt the coin drop. Desire: feeling it. Admitting to it. Risking the disappointment of it...

"Nooooo!" cries the pale facsimile. "No. And let me tell you why: I'm ugly, and just in case I might not really be ugly, I'm fat. And just in case I might not be fat at the moment, I'm getting old. Older...older...presto! Too late ha ha!3 I'm fine. Really. I don't need a thing."

And the Real One in scarlet and black storms and rages and swears like a sailor and makes the pale facsimile look a little...crazy. But she's breaking free, and she thinks it's never too late. She flips the bird at risk and has never been disappointed in her life--just extremely frustrated.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm turning Suddenly Slutty. Even in "never say neverland" that seems unlikely. But just to feel things, to go back through time and sweep up the shards, clear the path, let that fiery line of need and desire catch up with me and burn away the pale facsimile--well, it feels like a pretty big deal.

So this morning, when Tiffany declared me "cute," and my good friend Todd muttered, "She thinks we should hook up,"4 part of me laughed uncomfortably, and part of me said, "Oh, Universe, you work in such unexpected ways." Because I think I know a sign when I see one. And that sign said that I'm on the track of something significant.

The hip-swiveling of Zumba is just a bead on the scarlet gown of the girl who went to fairy prison five decades ago.

1(I just realized that the "single breath story" I'm supposed to be writing is about this restoration, and that's why I've not been able to finish it: not enough of it was conscious until just now.)
2 Not that I need or want any more money than I've got. I'm fine. Really.
3Too late ho-ho! Ha ha ha ha! Ho ho ho ho!.
4No, we shouldn't. People have thought it for years because we look alike and we're friends and of opposite genders and the same age. It'd be...sibling-ish.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comments. | Comment at Dreamwidth.



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