Monday, January 26, 2009

Looking Down

As much as I joke with my friends about the fact that I am in a “movement class,” comically demonstrating such techniques as “swaying,” “moving about the room with just your legs,” or “sitting UNDER the desk,” I find myself inexplicably taking this class very seriously. In those moments when we are to “open” ourselves up, I really do imagine myself in a place with no borders, my ego being extended along the plane of my arms into the furthest reaches of my imagined limitless space. When it’s time to close down, I am not just imagining myself closing off, but being closed off, surrounded by an imaginary impenetrable shell, which at first is made of smooth white porcelain, but upon closer inspection is constructed wholly of my own doubts and fears, and which is not only encasing me, but protecting me from the harshness of life.

This is the part I do NOT reenact for my friends. I’m totally drinking the Kool-Aid on this one. It would be really embarrassing for me, if not for the fact that I get to class and shed my backpack and shoes and blue jeans and am asked to free myself from all of the embarrassment and pressure from the world. I’m buying it. And I like that I am . But I’m not telling anyone. Yet.

More embarrassing still, I seem to expect others to somehow notice my newfound sense of purpose in movement. “How gracefully you move now!” say my friends in my imagination while I’m on my way to see them. “Have you gotten taller?”

“Why no,” I might reply, while leaning casually against the wall, very conscious of the movement and the part of my body from which it emanates, and the effect I’m having on the wall, and the effect that that effect is having on my friends, whom I have by now come to think of as my “audience.” “I’m just moving from my center now,” I'll tell them. How lucky for them to be my friends through this period of discovery of my own kinesthetic awesomeness. This is how I know I am actually becoming one of those drama kids. You’re no longer people to me. You’re just silhouettes, backlit against the spotlight on me. It’s going to my head and I like having it there.

“Look down,” says the woman cutting my hair at the Five Dollar Cuts Hair Academy, back in real life. Oh, I’ve got this one. We looked down for several minutes in class today. I don’t just allow my head to flop forward. I go vertebra by vertebra, slowly allowing my neck to unstack itself, until my cranium is hanging like a plumb weight. In looking down, I have discovered a new, deeper down than there ever was before. This is a down from which there may never be an up again. “Lacie” doesn’t say anything. She just starts in with the clippers. This is because she cannot say anything. The hang of my head reminds her of times when her own head has hung low. She fights back tears, as the too much eye makeup she is wearing will surely blind her and cause her to mess up the neck line. This is the new effect I have on people.

“Do you want it rounded or square?” she asks unculturedly. She has no appreciation for art.

Looking back on these incidents, I realize it’s crazy. It’s over the top. Nobody cares that I picture my movements extending out into the world before I ever make them, then withdrawing back into my body after me. But it’s the theater! And you have to wave a hand in the air grandiosely when you say “theater!” and imagine your hand is cutting a swatch out of the fabric of life that envelops you, just as we learned in class. That’s why you move at all, to carve out a place in this world, before its pressures lock you down into that tiny immobile shell, and it crushes you.

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