CultureFebruary 04 2013
It can cut you like a knife, if the gift becomes the fire
I remember sitting on the floor of our rental home, watching my mother’s feet pound against the carpet. Arms swinging, head turning, sweat pouring, she’d turn the volume up so loud our windows would rattle against the rhythm of the record player.
She’s a maniac….maniac I sure know.
A smile would curl her lips and her feet would move to the beat and I would see what it looks like to lose yourself. Her breath would catch and she’d take a swig of TAB before prancing over, grabbing my hands to pull me close.
“they all think she’s crazy….” she’d sing in the off-key way of hers and I’d giggle as we turned in dizzying circles around the living room. Leaning close, I’d breathe in her scent and catch a little of what it means to chase a dream – to lock rhythms with the beat of your heart.
It felt a little like coming to life.
This tunnel vision of hers morphed into other things as our family grew. Trips to WalMart, grocery shopping, cooking, separating laundry – in the more mundane happenings of day-to-day life, my mother knew how to lose herself in the rhythm. In a way, I watched her grow up as well. Mother and wife at nineteen, she moved and altered herself as much as possible to make sure we knew what it meant to fall into our own pattern.
At 30 years old, I see this in myself.
I am my mother’s daughter in the most literal sense: put music on with a beat and I can’t sit still. Her generation had Flashdance and Pointer Sisters and Footloose. For me? Put on So You Think You Can Dance, any variation of a Step Up movie, or America’s Best Dance Crew and the corner of my lips slowly curl in that Harmon way.
I am my mother’s daughter in the way of learned patterns: I lose myself in the rhythms of life. Days fly by and before I know it, months move past me on the calendar and I’m staring at a new year, wondering what it’ll bring and hoping the tunnel vision way of setting my feet firm on an idea will serve its purpose.
I haven’t always appreciated this part of my mother’s personality. There were more than a few occasions (namely: weddings) where the pull of a dance floor made me roll my eyes when she kicked off her heels and danced unabashedly with no concern for who was watching. And I’m sure there were moments where, with history repeating itself, she pranced her way over to me only to get a firm shake of my head before she pulled me out with her.
But, as it always happens, we gain a little understanding as we get older. And now, facing the possibility of a having a daughter myself, I hope and pray to spend evenings with me pulling her close to my chest and spinning wildly around the living room as I teach her what it means to dance through life as a maniac full of hope and love and life.