I know it’s a cliche beyond cliches to write about what you’re thankful for on Thanksgiving. Regardless, sometimes you just gotta embrace your own unoriginality. So, just in case you wanted to know, these are the things that I am grateful for this year:
- Liv. A year ago this time we barely knew each other. Today we’re living together. A girl couldn’t ask for a better roommate. We share the same slightly macabre sense of humor, the same fondness for plain speaking, and the same understanding that the world is a strange and wonderful place. We’ve only lived together for about five months now, but believe me, they’ve been an eventful five months! She was with me through the ups and downs, the boy-crankiness, the days when all I could think about was dancing, and all the rest. She is a great blessing to me, and I am deeply grateful to have her in my life.
- My new home. When I moved this summer, it had been six years since I had lived in a place that I could really call my own. First I was traveling non-stop with a national youth ministry retreat team, then I spent a year back at my parents’ house, then three years with another family first as their nanny and then as a roommate with increasingly little ownership of my living space. It’s the kind of pressure you don’t notice until it’s released. To live in a place where my presence is welcomed, not merely tolerated, where people want to know how I am and are willing to rejoice with me in my successes – it’s an amazing thing. I am deeply grateful to live in a house that is truly my home.
- Being able to leave unhealthy relationships. At my old living situation, I was stuck in between a controlling mother and her immature but increasingly rebellious teenage daughter. I considered it part of the price I paid for living in what seemed an ideal location for school. The money rent was cheap, but the emotional rent was pretty high, particularly when they were fighting. I can remember too many times hiding up in my room trying not to listen as they screamed at each other. Last Christmas the mother was diagnosed with liver cancer, which is killing her. I moved out in June, and haven’t had very much contact with them since. Recently I went back to visit, and found out, among other things, that the mother and daughter are choosing to spend their last days fighting viciously with each other. I am grieving for their short-sightedness, but also so glad that I am not there, and not in the middle of this. This is one mess it’s not my job to clean up, and I am deeply grateful.
- Anna helping me dance better. About this time last year Anna put out the call for people willing to learn how to teach. I knew that I wasn’t anywhere near the skill level necessary, but I also knew that the university swing club I belonged to needed to start training teachers and I was one of the few even remote possibilities. One of Anna’s requirements for teachers is that they be serious dancers, committed to constantly improving their dancing, and she’s willing to help them get there. Last December I was videotaped for the first time, and started coming more regularly to the weekly practice sessions. I started to work seriously on my Lindy basic, and on Charleston. I learned partner Charleston, reworked my frame, and began learning how to style and improvise within my dancing without throwing off my lead. It’s been a great joy to feel myself get better, to experience the pleased reactions of those I dance with, and to finally start being able to have the joyful, playful, fun dances I had always dreamed of having. Today I am three or four times the dancer I was a year ago, and I am deeply grateful.