I trudged down the concrete path; picking my way carefully so as not to slip down the steep, winding sidewalk. The icy wind cut into my cheeks, nearly blowing off my hat and sneaking it's sharp, cold fingers through the folds of my scarf. The trees whipping and groaning as the wind berated them about.
Finally, the steely-gray-blue door came into focus through my tear-frozen eyes. Struggling with it's weight, I pulled mightily and slipped inside.
BLAM! The wind slammed the door behind me. Warm air engulfed me as I stepped into the sanctuary of the building. Walking down the narrow dark hallway, over the squishy mats, I pulled open the second blue door with the slit of a window - crosshatching metal glinted inside the glass.
With a deep sigh, I felt my body lift up, the space of the studio wrapped around me and exploded pleasantly, expanding my energy like a delicious airy ocean, the ceiling feeling miles above, the blue cold air shining through the skylights; but it was warm in here.
Dropping my bag, I walked over to the music cabinet.
"Damn," I whispered to myself.
It was locked. I'd have to go upstairs.
Well no matter, the second studio was still high and open - a solitude of sweet space, somewhere I could move by myself without fear of interruption.
I went back out through the door and up the creeky, too-narrow stairs I'd passed on my left as I came in. Feeling another wave of freedom, I breathed deeply as the floor level passed my eye, hip, and I finally found myself standing at the end of the studio, the mirrors stretched out to my right along the edge of the wall, the marley light not dark in this space; the same skylight style windows cascading grey, cold light above to the left.
Dropping my bag on the chair by the music cabinet and slipping off my shoes so the marley would be protected, I stepped sock-footed toes first, my feet arching deliciously, onto the floor. Pulling out the permanent fixture of the old boom-box from under the shelf, I dug through my bag and found the disc I was searching for.
I slipped the CD into the chamber.
Click. Cccsh, cccsh, cccsh, whiirrrrrrrr... the music, playing softly, began to fill the room with the warm, lilting, rich sounds of the cello.
I threw off my winter gear and placed my shoes on top of my coat. I slid to the floor and closed my eyes, leaning back so I could feel the flatness of the wood covered marley against my arching, extending and flexing, relaxing spine.
Streeeeetch... arms up over my head, feet pointed down extending the line of energy, I felt my ribs pull and separate gently; my muscles in delight at the new spread and opening, but twitchy as well. I kept breathing... in and out... all the time feeling the floor.
Firm pressure against my body; hard, soft, firm, the floor was support, reminding my muscles to flex and release; to build and hold the scaffolding of my bones, to keep my movements supple and strong and light or heavy, but never too loose.... still...
To let go. To begin spinning and dropping, throwing my body around-- that was part of it too. The studio was only place I could release everything. The only space in which I could freely escape my emotions and send them out of myself into the space with the sound of the music and the rush of motion. No matter what was going on in the world of higher education: exams, expectations and interactions; here was safety.
I began organically to move; closing my eyes to feel the vibrations of the notes and chords in my body; the cello glided along my frame. My organs and tissues were drinking in the key signature; the mood of the piece flooding into my bloodstream, filling my muscles and lungs with it's essence. The rhythmic bowing and the time signature was tapping through my bones, I could feel it's persistence in my fingers, toes and jaw, even my pelvis.
I could also physically feel my insistent need for motion- I had to move, I had to open myself to the music and fling it out through my body.
Not yet though... just breathe... feel your energy's hyperactivity rushing around your system and restrain it until you're warm. Keep the excitement and feel it fill you to the core.
The dance floor had always been my sounding board. I could leap here. I could turn. I could slide and thrust and flow and feel my strength and motions contract and release. I could put all of myself into the movement without fear, without judgement: This was no class. No constricted emphasis on strength, specific motion, or complete training control; here I could take all that discipline and set it free!
I could move with no rules.
This was no ballet, or jazz instruction, no pure tap, no swing, no ballroom, no hip-hop, no modern, nor lyrical... this was me.
This space was the place to re-claim my soul, feel my body and move it. No where else in the world did I have such creativity as this; the deep and pure pleasure of feeling myself in my system and the utter delight of moving however I might for the expectation of No. One. Else.
Here, it didn't matter that my heart had been broken. That I couldn't sleep because of the gaping, tearing hole in my chest. That the guy I really, truly loved had broken my trust. It didn't matter that I felt angry with myself for swallowing lies and being nice about every injustice I was feeling. Here it didn't matter that I had to go about my studying, make the grade, write a thesis, deal with interdepartmental spats. Here it didn't matter that I felt alone and misjudged and confused about what the hell I was doing at University. Here it didn't matter that I was only allowed to do the work they wanted me to do; instead of what I knew I was capable of. Here I had to please no one. Not even myself, because this was not a time for self-judgement.
R, C and K had told me to go to the studio. Reminded me that I could take myself back. Take back the effort and energy that I was throwing into my classes and at my professors and give it back to myself.
R, C and K were the BEST. ROOMMATES. EVER. As well as being incredible, amazing, intelligent, understanding and compassionate women. They still are...
But right then: I wasn't in class. I wasn't on stage. I wasn't presenting, performing or working for anyone.
The smell of the dust and leather and metal and wood hit me. Here was salvation.
The floor was solely mine. I could dance for the mirrors, the light, the windows, the bricks, the air itself; perhaps a few squirrels would stop to watch me. No fellow-students.
The music changed; the rhythm shifting to a low pulse - sharp, steady, like blood pumping in my ears.
I began to dance, and so set myself free.