Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reflected glory

Is it too much about salsa already?

Tonight was brutal. Caught in a downpour on the way in, my hair, simple black tee, and black pants drenched. Rushing on my new lower-heeled latin practice dance shoes, I make my way to a spot in front of the room. In each studio, one wall is covered in mirrors. On Tuesday, it's a larger room, with larger mirrors. Everyone around me is looking at themselves, studying their technique. I keep my eyes focused on the teacher or off to the side. I can't look at myself. When I try, it's all I can do to stay in the room. I can't bear the sight. I can't stand the way I look in the mirror. I look away. I just try and feel the dance. I think about the man who loves me waiting at home. I mentally grab onto my wonderful life with great kids and too many friends to even keep up with. It takes all my will to remain in the class dancing. I know I shouldn't give into the downward emotional spiral but it's almost impossible. I remain but I'm miserable.

I don't know anyone in this class outside this room. Have no idea where they live or what they do. We speak only the barest of exchanges. I know what they look like and how they move. We recognize each other week to week. The laughs are coming more easily. But I can't stand the fear of judgment and the sureness that the judgement is harsh. I can hear my friends rally, "But you've a beautiful smile." I smile a lot, laugh often. But it's not enough to feel OK. There's nothing to do but keep dancing. I can't help but see the extra attention to the more lovely girls. The moment is ruined.

My sister, who I think looks like a super model says, I don't know what you see. My accolades, always coming with a comparative edge I suppose, make her uncomfortable. It's not really my word against hers. Anyone who sees the photos easily sees the difference. But who said it was a race? And why does it matter now that I'm overweight? Because even when I wasn't, I was. I've spent my entire life trying to grow more comfortable with my image. I try to live my life is spite of it. In hindsight, of course, I recognize the waste of the negativity. In the present, I'm paralyzed.

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