Susan's Blog

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Too Much Joy

Sometimes I escape my life into another world. Sometimes it is out of pain, other times, the escape is out of joy. Then, other times I love to connect my worlds together, so that it is all contained right there, in my arms. Imagine me, standing in the belly dancer’s embrace pose, arms crossed in front of me, then pulling apart wide from the elbows, then circling back, crossed again. Opening up to different worlds, pulling them in towards me, letting them go, opening up to them again.

Last night I gave my belly dance teacher my book. She is writing a memoir, too, so I felt yet another bond with her. I was shy about doing it. It’s funny; I did not give out any books as gifts last year. I was embarrassed to do so. I only gave books to close friends and family who asked for them. Otherwise I felt like it was kind of pushing myself on people.

But last night I felt moved to do this for the first time. It seemed to me that I could make Melinda understand what I was doing; that this was not at attempt at self-promotion, or to steal attention in her class and be the teacher’s pet. This was about quietly reaching out to a kindred spirit and giving her something that I think will move her.

She was great about it. She stood there stroking the cover and asking about the design. Then she told the whole class that we had a “published author” with us. It was very sweet, very warm, all of us talking about personal things for that few minutes before we began. Me mentioning Natty. I love talking about him. “My boy is 17,” I said proudly. “I’m glad people are finally paying attention to autism. It’s been a long time.”

Then we disbanded our cluster and formed out circle, hip scarves jingling, and got into position (arms stretched out, parallel to the floor, elbows soft, fingers up with middle and thumb almost touching, as if a tiny rubber band were pulling them together. The hands are very important; you can’t let them be splayed or limp or sloppy. Pelvis tucked, back straight, chest out, knees bent).

We practiced turning, spotting, all the things I did in ballet. It is so similar to ballet, it is amazing to me! I never realized it. The same straight posture and attention to placement of hands and arms. But there is a warmth and sexiness to belly dance, a sassy attitude, where you pop your hip up and drop it down, roll your shoulders, or you look over your shoulder quickly and then look away (Melinda calls this move: “I want you, you can’t have me.”) Also, you don’t get jingly coins or sequins too often in ballet, but I guess you do get all that lovely tulle, satin shoes, ribbons, and feathers. Sigh.

I sometimes just want to be lost in that music and the chiffon. It reminds me of when I was in my thirties and made all those turn-of-the-century clothes, and how I wanted so badly to be able to live back then, that I wrote books about living back then. I just had such a profound need to escape.

And that is what motivates me now, I suppose. As much as I am thrilled about my life here on earth, with my best friend/man-of-my-dreams husband, my new book idea, my strapping sons, etc., I am just as much in need of completely escaping it all. Is it because it is too much joy, the expression I made up for Nat when he was a baby, and would smile and look away or cover his little face when we smiled at him? Back then, I felt he was expressing to me that there was just “too much joy” in my gaze and in how it made him feel. Here was the song I made up about it, when I was 27, a new mother:

Baby Delight,
You give me baby delight
Oh, when you smile at me and cover your face
It’s baby delight.

Baby Delight,
So full of baby delight
He loves to stand
He’s Miniman
He’s Baby Delight

Baby Delight
He’s little Baby Delight
He drools and drools
he could fell ten pools
It’s baby delight.

Baby Delight,
You give me Baby Delight
Oh, when you smile at me and cover your face
It’s baby delight.

I knew but I didn’t know. Sometimes it’s still all too much.

1 comment

When I bought your book I read it cover to cover in about two days. Then I read it over again and immediately donated it to our town’s library – and bought another copy for me. I wanted everyone here to be able to read it. We have an autism epidemic here in Potter County.

I don’t think that you should think of giving your books to another person as pushing yourself on them, maybe they might be too shy to ask you for one themselves.

There is a lady who lives behind me who has written four books. I never knew that she had. One day she invited me to her home and showed me her collections of antiques and gave me one of her lovely books and autographed it. I treasure it, and the memory of that day.

I am sure your dance teacher feels the same.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, December 7, 2006 at 8:10 am

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