Jon and I had to turn around and go back home. I’d forgotten my earrings.
But a little while later, as we walked up the stairs at The Mansion, Julz, my Bellydancing teacher, opened the front door.
“I always show up early to case the joint before everyone else gets here, that’s DJ Julz’s job,” she told me later.
I wanted to get there early to make sure the space was set up for us to dance and to rally people in case the audience was spare.
But Janine, Sunday’s activity director, had pushed the couches and chairs to one side of the room and left a huge space for us to dance. That polished wooden floor was the best stage I’d ever danced on.
And the couches were already filled up with an enthusiastic audience.
I was especially glad to see Jenn there. After learning that she was in the Boston Ballet, I wanted her to see us. She was supposed to go to church with her sister, but she told me she decided she wanted to see us dance instead.
More than once I looked at her smiling as we danced and it made me smile back.
I went up to each person and made sure they recognized me. Many were from my art classes and weren’t used to seeing me wearing makeup or dressed as a Belly Dancer.
Emily, Trish, and Callie showed up soon after and we began the performance with “Gratitude”, the movements we begin each class and performance with.
We danced two songs (you can see us dancing here) after that, we took a break and Julz explained how our dance isn’t choreographed, but improvised with certain moves that we string together. She explained how different people take the lead and we all follow.
We danced to two more songs after that. Then Julz taught everyone in the audience how to do floreos with their hands and explained what a Zaghareet was (an expression of joy and support). Later Peggy, who lives at The Mansion, asked how to do a Zarghareet and Julz demonstrated.
Jon was there taking videos. You can see the video of us dancing, watch the audience doing floreos and hear Julz zaghareet here.
After the performance, Emily said she had never seen me so relaxed while dancing. “It was like you were dancing in your own living room,” she told me.
I wasn’t surprised at that, I feel so comfortable at The Mansion, and with the people there. I could plop down on the couch in the great room or on one of the rockers on the porch and start a conversation with the person next to me as if I belonged there as much as they did.
It was only when I got home that I realized how much dancing at The Mansion with my sister Bellydancers meant to me. I didn’t know how much I wanted these two important parts of my life to come together.
I wanted them to meet each other. And I wanted the people who I have come to know so well who live at the Mansion to see this part of me.
As I let go of the family I grew up in, I’m finding my new family in people and places I hadn’t expected. As if they were there all along. It may not have the stability of family as we traditionally know it, it’s more like a rotating family. But it works at the moment, and I’m beginning to trust, one way or another, it always will.
After the show, Julz told Paryese, who set the whole thing up, that we’d love to come back in the dark days of winter and dance again.
This was the first time Jon had been back to The Mansion since his stay in the hospital. When Julz found out she said it was a great way for him to come back.
She was right.
There was a sweetness to the morning that filled my heart and made me feel a little softer. I can still conjure that feeling up. It’s like when I have a really good dream that I want to hold on to, but I know the feeling will eventually fade.
But unlike a dream, I do have the videos to watch whenever I want to.