I told my friend at lunch that I was taking a break from line dancing at the senior center on the north side.

Instead, I’m going to tai chi and chair yoga at the senior center on the south side.

Without thinking, I told my friend that line dancing was what? different? stressful? odd? because I would usually be one of only two white people in the class, me and my friend of forty years.

The feeling – whatever it was or is – didn’t come from the Black women in the class. People were unfailingly kind to us. One woman might sidle up to us to coach us through difficult steps. Another would give a wink from across the room. One woman with her fedora cocked just so over her eye, who danced with perfect steps and great joy, walked over to me after an especially difficult dance and said, “Now, you’ve got that one down.” Yes, people were pretty kind.

So, where was the fatigue or stress or oddness coming from?

I think I know. It came to me today. It came from being so visible. Or probably more accurately, feeling so visible, feeling so acutely white. Thinking I didn’t belong there. Also thinking that I would never improve, that I would never be able to get outside of myself, to become oblivious to being one of only two white people in the class. It was always in my head.

I couldn’t relax.

Whatever the reason, I brought it in the door. My baggage. Fortunately, baggage can be unpacked. That’s what comes next. And then, hopefully, back to line dancing.


Photo by Gio on Unsplash

3 Comments on “Unpacking

  1. Such an honest observation Jan. I too hope you go back, relaxed and ready dance with abandon the next time around.

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