11 October 2009

It's All a Tango

So far I have been right about two out of three things I recently thought I knew, and I'm wondering if I'll be right about the third, too. In the States I'm not normally so accurate in my guesses and analyses, but here I do have a good track record (in a couple of cases, actually, creepily good - so good I was surprised). Still...I think three out of three would be a bit much.

A terrible tango class today, terrible in every way. First of all, I was still filled with hangover anger, which for me is that aimless anger where you just feel mad at the world - rock-kicking anger, I call it when I'm able to be mature about it. Then I was angry and sulky because I felt that if I were able to have private lessons I would learn all this so much faster, and the lack of private lessons was turning me into a rotten dancer. Then I was miffed because somehow I ended up spending a good portion of the lesson dancing with a German I dislike. The first time I danced with him, at a milonga, I told him he was quite good, and his response was to tell me repeatedly that I was lying; when assured that I was not, he still insisted I was. The end result of this was that eventually I wished to say, "Yes, I am lying. You actually suck." Today when he said, "How are you?" and I said, "I'm fine; how are you?" He said, "Ah, you do the British thing of answering a question with a question." Let's begin the conversation with some vague antagonism, shall we? Dr. Higher used to do that a lot, too: it's banter gone bad - the person intends to be witty, but it comes out wrong. It wasn't charming on him, and on this guy it was doubly not charming, because it was not charming and it reminded me of Dr. Higher.

Then I just kept screwing everything up. Except the weight changes. And my VTTT kept coming around and either suggesting other ways I could do things or, in one case, taking me away from my partner to explain something. Of course, this could be read as "singling me out for special treatment," but in my grumpy state I read it as "singling me out as especially bad." Then I lost my temper with one of my partners, and I kind of enjoyed it, which is the worst sort of temper-losing: enjoyed because you get to make someone else feel crappy too for a second.

So, standing sulkily in the circle of students, I asked myself at one point, Given all the complexity and trouble tango has involved me in, would I give it up? It's involved me in a good deal of complexity and trouble, one way or another: interpersonally, physically (having to learn to do new and often difficult things with my body), psychologically (trying to figure it out, rather than just do it), and temporally. Without it, I'd have much more time and a smoother life, and perhaps a smoother heart.

But no, of course I wouldn't. And not just because it gives me so much pleasure, both on those relatively rare occasions when it all goes right and when I'm trying to learn it in a relaxed environment. Also because, like it or not, complexity is the current of life. I remember thinking to myself last year, and perhaps even writing here, that one of the sad things about friendships was that there was only a relatively short period where you just liked your friends and enjoyed them: after that, when you got to know them better, there were moments of wrong-footed-ness, or disillusion, or just disagreement, and it was never quite so simply pleasurable again. But revisiting that now I see that that's how all of life is, and one might say that that's really what friendship and life are. Knowing people is a complex business, and a long process, and moving through things simply perhaps suggests only surface engagement rather then real understanding. So, fine, tango has led me into complication, and even some unhappiness I might well have missed out on otherwise, but if I were being only slightly dramatic I could say that that just means it's led me into life.

But, boy, I'm going to try not to dance with that German guy again. And I'm going to be firmer about going to the gym, because it really helps with presence.

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