Saturday, June 2, 2007

What do kittens, 6 year olds and Irish dancing have in common?

Part III: Irish Dancing

The only thing better than having a six year old in the house again (see Part II) is having one's granddaughter come to town. The transition from entertaining a shy kindergardner to a thoroughly modern, make-up wearing, on-the-verge-of-teenager sophisticate was a bit of a challenge, but when I see Ashley Megan walk through a jet concourse my heart skips a beat. Her energy is infectious and, seems never-ending (Maybe because I go to bed too early?). She can talk up a blue streak about things I have long forgotten or have no clue about. Who knew there's a difference between "going out with," "dating," and "going steady"? Or the fact that mascara now comes in $40 tubes. (What happened to the little girl who used to wear Tinkerbell lipstick?)

If Gabrielle looked at me with a kind of wonderment, as if even though I was a grown up she judged that I had fun potential, Ashley's sideways glances were a wee bit harsher. On more than one occasion, I caught her giving me one of the same looks I might have given my own grandmother. A "you don't know anything!" stare that is a combination of disdain and how-do-you-function-without-this-bit-of-information. It makes me kind of wonder how I do!

Ashley is on the thin side. Her Abercrombie jeans are marked with an "s" for slim. But what she lacks in meat on her bones, she makes up for with solid muscle. When she isn't at school, the mall, or babysitting her younger siblings, my favorite Super Girl stays busy cheerleading, doing gymnastics, or playing football. One minute she's standing on two feet, the next she's on the ground with her legs splayed in opposite directions, toes perfectly pointed, in a split which looks completely undo-able to me. This nimble one executes these un-natural looking body positions with the greatest of ease. Because of her size and know-no-fear attitude Ashley is the go to person when the cheerleading squad needs someone to jump on a mini-trampoline, do a few aerial spins and end up on the shoulders of girls at the top of a pyramid who are going to catch her ankles as they shout "Go Team Go!". It boggles a grandmother's mind, and like her father's antics when he was her age, I'm probably better off not knowing about it.

One of the other been-there-done-that accomplishments of Ashley's short life, was a year or more of Irish Dance lessons. When she began to show me some of her Riverdance routines, I felt like the mother in Dirty Dancing after Baby does some of her finest Mambo moves in the movie's final scene. I heard myself saying, "she gets it from me." (And yes, in case you are wondering, as I said it Ashley flashed me one of those looks!)

You see, I love to dance. In fact, there are times when I think I must have been a dancer in another life. I don't even know if I believe in re-incarnation, but it would answer a few questions I have about myself. How else can I explain the times when the sound of an Irish pennywhistle or Celtic harp start my feet tapping. My shoulders straighten up, my arms cling to my side but my feet move fast and furiously to an ancient rythm they've obviously danced to before.

Or take my instinctive desire to know more about Native American culture and art. Is it possible that on those nights before a great buffalo hunt, when drummers circled a bon fire and the mystical tune of flutes and rattles drew men and women out of their teepees, I (one of the chief's lithesome daughters, no doubt) led the woman's circle dance, lost in the music and in touch with my inner turtle?

Appalachian clog dancing has Irish roots. Some of my mountain ancestors must have filled my gene pool with the spirited dance DNA. I feel sure I am just one in a long line of dancing ladies who tapped, or clogged, or boogied their way through the generations.

Yes dance is in my blood and shows up whenever the music of life plays. Why else would I have stayed tuned in to that dumb ass Dancing with the Stars show, feeling the need Rhumba or Cha Cha Cha my way through the many commercials?

Alas, I learned early on in my childhood that dancers are graceful, light on their feet and glide rather than clomp across the wooden boards of the dance floor. I'm not being self deprecating, but honest, when I tell you I've always been a teency weency bit clumsy. Like it or not, it's true. And picking a spot and staring at it when you're spinning around so you don't get dizzy - well, that never worked for me, I always got a but wobbly. Imagine a new-born colt, who has just mastered the art of walking on still knobby-kneed legs, trying to run across an open field. You can tell, that there is the potential for grace there, it just hasn't been developed yet. I'm a little embarrased to say, I'm still working on grace. Over the years, I kind of decided grace isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Every once in awhile it's good to let loose and shake ones booty to a musical beat heard or unheard.


I'm not sure how it happened so fast. The people who filled the house for my Dad's 90th birthday have come and gone. The house is quiet again except for the sound of the washing machine. But good memories remain. Thoughts of little ones and dolphins and dancing granddaughters and birthday candles remind me of my many blessings. And for the first time in weeks it's raining. Really raining, tropical storm rain without thunder or lightning or wind. I couldn't resist going for a walk, splashing in a puddle or two. Then, before I even realized it was happening, I was humming a song of gratitude to the Great Rainmaker in the sky, and dancing in the glorious rain. Who needs grace at a time like that?

I conclude this lengthy post, with the words of Leeanne Womack ... whatever your circumstances, or whenever you hear the music you love, "I hope you dance!"


Merry ME




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