Last night, I was dancing again. It was the Fourth of July, right before the fireworks show in Peekskill, NY, and the sun scorched the clouds blood red as it dipped down into the Hudson River. A high-energy band called Barnstorm shook the stage and the air with pop, rock and country hits. All around me, little girls twirled and did cartwheels, stood on their hands, and jumped to the music. Some stared at me, mouths slightly open, as my bare feet kneaded the ground. I felt my way into the music, relaxing my shoulders and breathing deep, and soon I was twirling, too, bouncing and shaking and flipping myself upside down.
After a couple of songs, I was winded and very thirsty, so I ambled over to Austin and his family to rest and drink some water. As soon as I left the dance floor, though, the band told the crowd that they were going to start the next song slow for that “dancer out there,” and two little blonde-haired girls ran to where I was standing and said breathlessly, “They’re calling you!” I smiled at Austin and put my water bottle in his hands. There was no time to rest.
I love dancing–the freedom of it, the way I don’t care about anything except the music billowing through my body, the way I can get out into the world all that I feel and let it fade into the air. And I love watching other people dance: the scrawny man with silver hair bending his knees and twisting, eyes closed, smile wide; the beautiful Asian couple swinging each other round and round, a human hurricane; the pig-tailed girl flinging herself this way and that, mouth wide open in bliss. I love to watch people be fully themselves, moving just the way their bodies want to move, how the crowd watches on, wishing themselves there with us.
It’s been a month since I moved to New York, and I admit there have been tear-filled nights, when I just wanted to give kisses and hugs to Koko and Jodi and Happy, or sit around the dinner table with Okaasan, Otoosan and Kazami, giggling and stuffing ourselves full of homemade curry bread. I missed the feeling of completeness, of satisfaction, after a long, muscle-aching week of farm work. Most of all, I missed the comfort of being surrounded by a deep, unbreakable, familial love.
But that night, love surged all around me. I was laughing, giving high-fives to the girls, winking at them and dancing and singing with them. A father came up to me when I was drinking some more water and said, “My daughter’s in love with you. She’s copying all your dance moves.” Austin told me he thought I changed some lives that night. I hoped and hoped that those girls would keep dancing, that they wouldn’t lose that fearlessness, that spunk.
It’s so hard to connect to others, especially when you are plopped in a place you know very few people. I struggled–and still struggle–to be loving and accepting of new ways to live my life, and still hold on to what makes me myself–what makes me burst with joy. Many nights while Austin was at work and I was all alone, I felt barren with loneliness. But last night I finally danced, and I loved, and I bonded. I am still glowing.