Perhaps the most useless thing I almost learned in junior high was square dancing.
At Central Junior High, 6th – 9th grade, the girls took physical education, not in the gym, but in the girls’ gym. To get to the girls’ gym, you had to take the back staircase, down a small tunnel-like hallway (which they painted pink, as if the point hadn’t already been made), through the final doorway into a windowless box.
Once a year, we were invited into the center of the school, gleaming wood floors, bleachers, windows, two entrances, and a stage — the boys’ gym — for square dancing with the boys.
It was almost shocking at first, the glow of it all, but reality unpacked its bags as we were dosie-doed for one week, then returned to the pink of the back stairwell.
I loved sports in both junior and senior high, but it wasn’t until after college that I found my place. I began to run and bike, by myself. The open roads. The wind in my hair. The thoughts. The music in headphones. The books on tape. This was my world. This for me, was winning.
On my morning walk, I listened to a podcast about Choreographer Twyla Tharp, the legendary choreographer and dancer, who got her start performing on subway platforms and rooftops in the 1960s. She knew she did not have the perfect body for ballet, the perfect technique, but she was strong, smart, and she loved dance. She knew her path was to be made, not followed. And she did. She combined modern moves, with classical moves, she introduced new music, and she created a world of dance that no one had ever seen, or felt. And they followed her, men and women alike.
Today the sun is shining. My legs are strong. And I am happy. You can take what they give you. You can envy what the others have. Or you can find your own way, and really dance!