Change


One of my friends recently blogged about what she was doing this time a year ago, and it got me thinking. A year ago this October Joe was still in Afghanistan. I was writing letters to him in class while trying hard not to flirt with Carlos, and just barely starting to notice Trey’s attention. (I didn’t even begin to take him seriously until one night he blew me a kiss to say good-bye, and I thought, “Oh, maybe there’s something going on there…”) I was still living with my former roommate, and though I wasn’t all that happy, the thought of moving out hadn’t entered my head. Liv and I had just started to hang out on a regular basis, and though we got along like a house on fire, we still had no inkling of the best friends symbiosis that would soon assert itself. Anna had put the word out that she was looking for more teachers just the month before, and I had started to learn how to lead (to teach you need to be able to do/explain both lead and follow).

Last October I took my first ever West Coast lesson.

This October Joe is in novitiate in Louisiana, Carlos has established himself as Not My Type, and Trey is the kind of friend you call “dear” and wouldn’t date on a dare. My former roommate is dieing of liver cancer (she’s been in Hospice Care for about a month now), Liv and I would be joined at the hip if her wheelchair wouldn’t get in the way (did I mention we live together now?), this month I’m teaching Swing I, and last weekend I drove two hours each way to attend a four hour West Coast dance.

I’d like to say I’ve learned Deep Life Lessons in the intervening year, that I’ve Grown and Changed as a person. Mostly, though, it’s felt much more like riding a roller coaster with no safety restraint system, holding on for dear life trying not to get thrown off into the bottomless void beneath. Ironically, I learned how to let go of my need for drama just as life was handing me some major Drama to deal with. Every month has had its challenges, none of them little: the liver cancer diagnosis right before Christmas Eve, guy drama, family issues, chemotherapy, moving, planning a wedding (regrettably, not my own), major money problems after my financial aid got screwed up, trying to settle into a new home, more guy drama, sprained ankles, school challenges, road trips… oh, and dancing. A lot of dancing.

I’d like to say it’s been a good year, but I’m not sure if it’s been good or bad. I suppose it’s been good for me. At least I’ve survived so far. That’s something in itself. I’ll count my blessings.

My sister Judy, who is one of the most organized women I’ve ever known, just contacted me for my Christmas Wish List for this year. Every year she collects all the wish lists from everyone in the family and compiles them into one big spreadsheet of wish lists, then distributes that list far and wide to whoever might want to give one of us a gift. Sometimes it’s fun seeing how things have changed over the course of a year. Last year my wish list was:

  • A swarm of bees or rabbit from Heifer International, http://www.heifer.org
  • Coffee grinder
  • Small weather radio.
  • Blue or periwinkle moonbeam clock from L.L. Bean
  • Vintage rhinestones (get Leila’s opinion if needed)
  • Train tickets between Dayton and Milwaukee
  • Silly Disney Princess stuff – esp. Snow White
  • Gift cards for Target, Meijer, Cafepress.com, spreadshirt.com, zappos.com
  • Books:
    • Naomi Novik
    • Any volume of the Navarre Study Bible
    • A Chicago Style Manual
    • W.T. Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist
    • Edith Stein, Finite and Eternal Being
    • Berkman, Contemplating Edith Stein
    • A. McKendrick, On Film Making
    • Wendy Shalit, A Return To Modesty
    • Kerouac, A Book of Sketches
    • A good dictionary

This year my list is:

Just in case, you know, you wanted to know…

My social life tends to be a little schizophrenic.  There’s the swing dancing part, and the Catholic young adult part.  Historically, the Catholic young adult part was the biggest and the deepest, where my good friends were, where I drew my emotional support, the people that I hung out with on the weekends, the people I took care of.  Swing dancing was that odd thing I went off on my own to do.  I wasn’t very close to the other swing dancers, and I was happy with that.  There were already too many people who felt they had a right to my time and attention.  Swing dancing was the place I could go and just be, the place where I could be selfish.  All I wanted was to dance, and so I did.

Then I started getting closer to people at swing.  First Mark and Jenn, then Chiara, then Trey and Anna and others.  I started dancing a lot more, and spending most of my free time (and a lot of time that wasn’t really free) dancing.  Little by little I began to pull away from the Catholic part of my life.  Being Catholic is still one of the foundational facts of my existence and my friendships with my Catholic friends go way deeper, but my social life is now focused on swing.

Last weekend I had a party.  I called it Big Party @ Bernadette’s, and I invited my whole life.  I told everyone that this September marks my 2nd year of swing dancing, plus I’d moved into a new house that I wanted to show off, and I wanted to see all of them.  And they came.  I had maybe 60 or 70 people there, although they came and went, so I think the most we had at one time was maybe 50.  We had beer, and chicken on the grill, and a dance floor in the basement that everyone was having too much fun to use.  It was a great party.  People are still telling me what an awesome time they had.  It was a huge success.

Except my worlds didn’t mix.  My Catholic friends and my swing friends pretty much stayed in their own groups, warily acknowledging each other’s existence at a distance.  I think each group intimidated the other, but for different reasons.  And while my Catholic friends are well aware that my life has a cast of thousands, I think my swing friends didn’t really realize what a large circle of acquaintance I have.  I can’t make people talk to each other, but I guess I’d hoped that there might be a little cross-over.  And… no.  I’m still stuck in the middle.