Back to the Shallow End

The beautiful stage and dance floor of Austin's historic Scottish Rite Temple, with chairs for the Prom King and Queen per the Prom Night Theme.


I used to love tango festivals. At some point, I hope to love them again, but I think it may be a little while.

Maybe in small, local milongas it's just that I have a little more time to (try to) remember the people I should remember. To say the things I wanted to remember to tell them, and concentrate on what they say to me. Now, I feel so much more awkward in my interactions with people - and the more people around, the worse it is.

At Austin's Yolatango milonga Saturday night, I forgot people, faces, names, and even the context of where I should have recognized them from. Did I meet them in Dallas? Albuquerque? Denver? Here? Have we ever danced? Were they a client? Was I at Albuquerque's tango festival last year, or the year before?

The venue, Austin's Scottish Rite Temple, was gorgeous, The music was fantastic. I had friends to sit and chat with.  It should have been an easy night, and it seemed to be at first. I was happy to be there, excited to see friends visiting from out of town, and at first I was really enjoying the night. But less than an hour into the night, I noticed I was forgetting things. I was losing trains of thought mid-sentence. I couldn't remember who I had just been talking to. Everything I said seemed to be the wrong thing, out of order, confused and worse, nervous-sounding.
It was nervous-sounding because I was nervous-being. The "High School / Prom Night" theme of the milonga was painfully appropriate. I felt anxious, awkward, and quickly exhausted. I couldn't keep track of where we were in the playlist - did we just have a vals tanda? Milonga? Did I remember to ask so-and-so about such-and-such. Did I remember to tell Person A "hello" from Person B, and apologies that they couldn't be there? Where was I sitting? My brain was a chaos of second-guesses.

Except when I was dancing . . .

Everything fell into place when I danced - every single time I danced. I don't mean that I danced all that well. I had my usual annoying struggles. But I felt like myself. I felt natural, calm and happy - as long as I was dancing. The fog lifted. The chaos quieted.

As soon as I stopped dancing and had to interact with people outside of an embrace, I felt like I lost my mind. Thoughts of, "why did I just say that?"  "What did he say his name was?" Then realizing I had been staring and saying absolutely nothing for several minutes while people wondered if I was annoyed at something. (The perils of Resting Bitch Face.)

Is this what large milongas are going to be like for me now? Not a happy thought. Even before I danced tango, I was used to dancing packed clubs, completely surrounded by people. I had no anxiety then - or if I did, I just danced through it and didn't notice.

What are the new rules for my MS brain? Ask me to dance, but don't ask me to talk?

For now, I am back at the shallow end of the pool. I'll go back to my smaller, calmer milongas and figure out what is going so right there -- and going so wrong elsewhere.

3 comments:

Lila McCall said...

Hang in there my friend. Many Gentle Hugs. Next time you see me, you can always bitch to me....I'll listen...and then probably laugh with you.

tangogeoff said...

Another brave post. Thank you, Mari. As long as your friends know how you're feeling then they'll be there for you.

Rabidmoon said...

My heart goes out to you, chica - the anxiousness resonates in this post and I understand, at least in some ways, how muddy those waters can be to navigate. Ultimately, do what helps you find your center again - the journey is yours to take, and only you know what direction - and what steps - suit you right now, today. Many hugs. - K