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2.16.04 Dancing with the Inner Demon

I joined a gym. No big commitment -- 3 months, $99. I figured that would get me through the worst of this ungodly cold winter.

I wanted a class, something where I could get out of my own head and be part of a flock. So I joined a small place with classes that promise to get my energy flowing.

So I go to my first class at 12:15 on a Wednesday. T-shirt, sweat pants, and the required bare feet. At 12:20 the only other people in the room are 3 women chatting it up in the opposite corner. Great, everyone knows one another and here I am the lone klutz. Kindergarten all over.

The instructor is outside chatting it up with the receptionist. She finally breezes in, gathers us in a circle -- there are now about a dozen women in the group -- and starts telling us about her new passion for knitting. I glance at my watch. I try to be understanding: this is the instructor's livelihood, her business -- she is social, we are her customers, her extended family, her playmates. She seems to know everyone, except me, and everyone seems to know one another. She manages to connect her knitting to movement and "flow" and points out that her whole life revolves around the observation of movement and energy flow.

Yeah, yeah, I think. So let's start the damn class already.

It's the little demon in me who lacks all patience and loves screaming at people while my face is perfectly placid. She is especially active at the supermarket on crowded Saturdays when people seem to lack all awareness that their stopped carts are blocking the aisle while they ponder which brand of bean to buy. She is yelling at the instructor to stop talking while I'm standing there with a slight smile, anxiously checking out the other women.

We start moving.

There are maybe 20 women in the room now. A score of middle-aged white women prancing around, each in search of her inner goddess. Some are jazzy and hot, others are lumbering and uncool. We are way past the days of 1980s lycra unitards. Most of the women are wearing long loose pants, but some have the nerve to bear their forty-something midriffs. One woman wears bands of tiny jingle bells around her ankles. Who are these women and why aren't they at work? The thought passes through my mind that they are probably fascinating people like myself -- artists, writers, university professors -- women in no rush to "get back to the office." The demon doesn't care -- they all look silly.

I thought this class was going to be about discovering energy flows through movement. I thought the instructor was supposed to guide us through this journey, discipline our distracted ways. But now we are improvising, running around the room catching valentines and chocolate hearts out of the air.

My inner goddess is nowhere to be found, but my inner demon is having a ball.

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