Lobster Girl Finds the Beat


For three glorious months in 2019, it seemed like it was finally going to happen for me. I was attending a dance fusion class at the Arcata HealthSport led by an amazing instructor named Jovonne. Once a week I'd stand at the back of the class with my friends and try to keep up. Never in my life had something I was so bad at made me feel so good. "My God," I realized one afternoon as I shook my ass in step with 30 other beaming women, "I would follow this person into battle." I have never felt comfortable on a dance floor. I am not physically gifted and I cannot keep a beat. I'm a word person, and if a song has any kind of lyrics, I'm going to inevitably fall into rhythm with the syllables. I've got the dour, driven internal voice that gets programmed into most eldest daughters, reminding me there are a thousand things that need to get done, and why would I embarrass myself doing something frivolous that I'm also terrible at? For a while, dance class was a workaround. If that dour voice began to gripe at me, I could quiet it by reminding it: This is a class, not something foolish like dancing for fun. These little codas helped counterbalance the joy I was pretty sure I wasn't allowed to feel. But that was 2019, a whole lifetime ago for many of us. The pandemic years were hard years for me, marked by a cascading series of personal tragedies. It was a kind of grief season and if the circumstances had been plotted into a novel, an editor would slash through half of them with a red pen with the words, "Too much, unbelievable." And to survive, I went into Lobster Mode. It's a familiar approach for we eldest or only daughters. We have to get things done and it simply won't get done if you pause to fall apart. So, you get tough and you cover your sweet meat with something almost impossible to break, and you put your little lobster head down, and you push forward. I see that chapter of my life now from above, like I'm looking down through a glass bottomed boat. There I am, Lobster Girl, scuttling from the Airbnb to the hospital. There I am, hibernating, sunk deep in my shell and unreachable as people…


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