In high school I, along with my fellow dreamy-eyed girlfriends, used to oft quote the saying “Dance like no one is watching and love like it’s never going to hurt.” More than fifteen years later, with some life experience under my belt, it is worth unpacking this pithy precept a little.
I have always loved dancing. There is something that opens up in me when I hear music. One of my favorite places to dance is the Castro in San Francisco, where I know that my moves won’t become a fascination to any leering men. My other favorite place is in my bathroom – headset on, music blaring. I have discovered yet another amazing place to move. It’s a dance studio near my house. All women. Loose choreography. Amazing music. The atmosphere is oozing with female pride and a complete absence of judgment. Within this world I have watched my self talk turn from frustration at not getting the steps to just dancing; truly, like no one is watching (because honestly, no one is). It is the adage come true and it has brought me a remarkable amount of joy. I stand behind it 100%.
The second half of that sweet yearbook quoted saying, I am not so sure of. As I am finally seeing what appears to be a glimmer of a light at the end of this heartbreak tunnel, I am still the most committed cheerleader for love. I love love. I love the look on people’s faces as they sit together and revel in the joy that comes from just being. I love the wonder in the eyes of the pairs that can hardly believe what they have stumbled into.
For better or worse, I am a most devoted romcom movie watcher. Yes, the plotline is very nearly the same 90% of the time, but the ending always makes me happy. People choosing love. So I believe in risking loving, but wisely. I think I have so rarely kept my wits about me when entering relationships that I tend to find myself 6 months to years in, wondering how I got there.
These days, I believe in treading cautiously into love. Testing the waters and making sure that all of the things you bring to the relationship always have a place on the boat – that if the thing starts to take on water, it isn’t your interests and priorities and the stuff that makes you uniquely you that go first. But I do believe at some point, when there is enough to go on, to make you sure of at least the depth of the pool and that it is indeed full of water, you jump. And you love like it is the most beautiful thing on earth. You embrace the wonder and the joy and even the challenges that come up, and sink into the moment. And for as long as possible, perhaps months or a lifetime, you let go of the fear that it could all end in heartbreak and own the beautiful present that it is.