I have an acquaintance who dances. For money. With a pole. When I first learned of her career of choice my reaction was not what I would have expected. My response took me, actually, quite by surprise, caught me a good bit off guard. I would have expected feelings of disdain or disgust or possibly even a tiny bit of feminist rage. In a best-case scenario, I could have imagined a warm woman-to-woman acceptance, an acknowledgement that life is hard and we do that which we feel we must do. I could have pictured, even, my inner Buddha embracing this spiritual sister of mine, surrounding her with love and positive energy and wishing her well on her journey. I did and felt none of these. Instead, the visual of her exposed and performing nightly on stage for a group of expectant gawkers resonated deeply with me. I was not angry. I was understanding. I was understanding because I could relate.
And, no. I have never been a pole dancer.
But, through writing, I do understand the experience of standing before a crowd exposed and vulnerable, exposed and vulnerable and yet unable to stop the performance, drawn, in fact, to the performance. I reveal to you everything, or almost, and you sit there fully dressed and gawking with absolutely no intent of sharing. I try to be all Gypsy Rose Lee with my words and show you just enough to leave you wanting more. Sometimes that works, but mostly that is not what you are here to see. As a reader myself I know that I don’t plunk down the big bucks for something I could see on the street. I want the scoop. I want the story the author hasn’t even shared with her husband or best friend.
I would, for example, lose a good number of you should I write about my morning in a way that looks like any other. I could share with you my frozen burrito breakfast, the fact that I slept until nine. I could fill you in on my Facebook status and the funny website my daughter shared with me. I promised her guitar lessons if she does her chore this time without complaining. The dogs are in a mood, one hyper, the other skulking. I assume the second has something to hide, something of which he is in no way proud. I graded a couple of projects my students sent me. Felt I had actually accomplished something with that. Good job and a pat on the back. Finally, I followed the urge of my heart, that unspoken prodding to pack my book bag and head out to the coffee shop to pen an essay of some sort.
You don’t want to read that. You can see that with your eyes. You get that at home.
What you want of my morning looks more like this:
I am thinking that at almost fifty I am not certain I have lived my life. I have existed, sure, but have I lived? I reflect on my good girl status through high school. When others are “remembering when” I have nothing to contribute because, no, I don’t remember because, no, I never did. I never did drugs or drank or went to all the parties. I never hung out. I did homework on Friday nights. And I liked it. Sure, I sowed some oats in college. Actually, I sowed some pretty good fields of those oats in college, but that was about it. I have been serious and practical and business-like for most of my life. I have been the responsible one. I have been a rule follower. Sort of. So, yes, on the outside it looks to all around me as if I am just finishing off a plate of frozen burritos, but inside I am thinking that I need to have a little fun for once in my life, that I need to not be afraid to be a bit outrageous, to not be afraid of what others think, to not be afraid of what others say. I need to be me, ALL of me.
And if I write about my morning like this, I feel good that I have given you a glimpse inside my head. I feel good because maybe I am not the only one who questions whether she has lived her life or whether she has just existed. I feel good because maybe I am not the only one who would like to step outside her comfort zone a bit, but is uncertain how to do that and still cannot shake the idea of what others would think. I love, for example, to bare a little breast and get hot and steamy with my words, but for God’s sake, I’m a mother and an educator and I know people who wear those holiday sweaters with jingle bells and Christmas trees on them. What would THEY think? Still, I can’t resist giving a little peek just for the kick of it.
So, when this acquaintance of mine shared that she exposes herself for a crowd, and that she feels vulnerable, yes, but rather enjoys her job, I got it. I so got it.