Yes, some researchers and medical types may have had advance clues but not the whole picture of what its like now or what it’s becoming. The numbers are rising each day of both those affected and those killed by this Covid19 plague. The projected numbers are chilling as is the reality that we’ve not yet reached the high point of the upward curve. After days and days of non-stop virus news, anxiety levels are up most everywhere and threaten to go off the charts and into the panic zone as close family or friends report being infected. That’s where I am tonight. Personally, I’m feelin fine and sheltering in place but my niece is not. She’s been locked up in her bedroom for over a week. A doctor herself, she reports nearing the point of either getting better or much worse. Her anxiety and that of her husband and two children is intense. She didn’t see this coming either. The TV keeps saying we’re all in this together, and we are; but some are in deeper than others.
Today I am still in Palm Springs, now hold up in a backyard casita, trying to stay safe. Think studio apartment but a very nice one. I’m lucky and grateful to be so blessed. I have access to a lovely backyard with pool here in the desert and just spent an hour sitting outside as the sun lifted higher and higher into the sky and warmed my chilly morning bones. This is my morning prayer time. It now takes a full hour to get through all the prayers I need to lift in these days, double the time I needed three weeks ago. Today all my Argentina people came onto my list. Out of curiosity, I counted17 in all. I miss them, some more than others of course, but I miss them. One at a time over five different trips, they welcomed me, lifted me up, embraced me with their open Argentinian arms and hearts and took me into their lives; took me to backyard family asados, some going on for whole afternoons and half the evening. They took me to visit their families–to their mothers’ and uncles’ homes. There I was greeted, embraced, celebrated and fed very, very well. They pulled out their hidden stash of homemade wines and spirits to go with the roasted fatted lamb and piles of homemade empanadas. They let down their hair and told me stories and laughed freely with me. They made an asado right there on the small apartment floor using a portable barbecue because the rain was pouring outside. They bought ten times the meat we needed because they wanted to treat me like the beloved one they’d made me into. They took me to the countryside on the back of their motorcycle and gave me a holiday with friends and amazing homemade pizza baked on the asado grill. They joined me on my birthday and took me dancing, unlocking a crucial secret about our beloved dance: even the professionals dance their own, unique dance. They kept me out all night and rode me home on the motor through the streets of Buenos Aires as the sun began to come up once more. They confided in me and invited my council. They let me know that riding on their motor was a privilege reserved for precious few. They opened their homes, created space for me, sheltered and fed me, washed my clothes, took me along with them to their classes where they invited me to share and made me a part of the family, a part of their lives, a part of their country, which is now my country. How I miss you, my beloved Argentina.
I’m sheltering in place at my daughter’s home in Palm Springs, unable to get back home. Happily there’s Alexa who, when asked, will shuffle and play songs from a favorite tango band-Otros Ailes. “Alexa, play Otros Aires band,” I say loud and clear. The music fills the air and at once my spirit lifts, then my feet and the dancing begins. No worries that I have no partner here, only two small dogs I’m watching until my daughter returns. I dance anyway, as I have since I was very young. I dance because doing so makes me happy, invites me to be in cinc with the music, invites me to smile and just be. Plus, I’m moving and not just sitting. My daughter Hope has a sign on her kitchen wall: “This Kitchen is for dancing.” Well done, Hope! I raised you right!
I saw that film recently, the one about Mr Rogers. It wasn’t so much about his long-running TV show for children as it was about the way he lived his own life . . . and that was beautiful as well as deeply moving. Fred Rogers created community wherever he was by the way he opened his heart to others and truly appreciated each soul he encountered. He lived out of an attitude of compassion and gratitude. We need that sort. We need more of that sort in the world just now. Like we need a felt sense of community. In Buenos Aires this is found in “my barrio,” whichever one one claims or lives in. It’s there one goes in an an evening milonga to see friends we know and respect and love. It’s where we are known, respected and loved. Being there feels like home even if we don’t know all the players, when enough acknowledge us, embrace us with their smiles as well as their arms, we know we belong. I almost didn’t stop at the Sunday afternoon practica today as I would be very late with only an hour or so left after visiting coffee hr after church and the art museum after that with my beloved niece. But tossing caution and reason aside, I did stop and found a beautiful day in my barrio. I haven’t danced much of late and didn’t expect much, but was warmly welcomed and affirmed by several sincere souls. “It’s good to see you out, we need to see you more often, let me give this lady a hug hello, I need to dance with you soon . . . ” All this and I didn’t even get to dance a milonga tanda! I’m inspired and encouraged by my beautiful day.
I for one will be glad to see this year come to a close. It’s been a tough one for sure. From the very beginning a string of illnesses and injuries-mine and those of close family and friends- has interfered with the dancing. As 2020 looms in the near future, my health has mostly returned to normal, save a lingering cold. My family members are all recovered but some friends, one in particular who is also part of the tango community, is still in recovery from a terrible car accident. It wasn’t her fault, but she’s suffered a complete life altering because of someone else’s mistake. It’s been over four months since she’s been able to work so her business has come to a halt and her resources nearly depleted. While I continue to pray for her complete healing I find myself profoundly grateful to have healed nearly completely from my terrible fall last October. On my way to dance at the Portland Tangofest, I tripped on an uneven place in the sidewalk and took the worst fall of my life, hitting the concrete sidewalk hard with my face. I took the brunt of the fall above my left eye which was swollen shut soon after I arrived at emergency. CT scans revealed a fracture in the orbital bone but fortunately no surgery was required. However, it would be many weeks before all the swelling and bruising dissipated. I looked truly hideous for a while and just stayed home. I returned to dance shortly before the Thursday Norse Hall milonga celebrated it’s 10th year and last milonga ever. Wow. I really hated to see that one close. But, change is always happening, all around us. We can count on that for sure… and a new Thursday milonga opens in 2020 in a new location. I write today from Fresno where I am enjoying the holidays with family. While there’s not much tango here, everyone in this family dances-at the drop of a tune! Even the youngest, baby Oliver, just one year old! He’s the best dancer ever, moving and shaking at the first hint of music. That’s my baby! Can’t wait to see what kind of dancer he becomes as he grows up! Noe, my eight yr old grandson, in heavy into Polynesian dance! Delightful! So, looks like 2020 is likely to hold plenty of dancing, maybe even more tango for Mema! Bring it on!
Takashi arrived February 1 and left today, April 3 at 6 a.m., one minute ago! Among a few new things he is taking dance shoes; shoes to dance Argentine Tango in. I was able o get him to two tango classes and two milongas, one at the Valentango and one at Wed evening at the Norse ballroom. Plus, he attended my Sunday evening dance class at the church once and learned the box step and the basics of swing. While I wouldn’t call him a natural exactly, Takeshi did learn quickly. Now, if he wants, he can continue back home. I doubt he will, but one never knows. We were up at 3:30 a.m. to leave by 4 and get him checked in–A few blocks from the Holden’s, where we stayed overnight nearer the airport, he said he thought he may have left his wallet behind….but wasn’t sure. It was too late to go back–so we didn’t as he assured me he had money in a separate place. I agreed to mail the wallet if I find it. His last words were: “I’ll come back.” I think he’s like to do that–maybe study for a year or two here. But I think I spoiled him–as I covered all his expenses while he was here, including his food. And, being 19 and a growing boy, my food bill more than doubled the last two months. He checked his guitar….more comfortable he said. Sadly he never did play it for me–always practiced in his room when I was at work. He always chose long driving trips to ask me deep or hard questions like: what’s the meaning of life? and What does the Bible mean to you? Or, if we were the same age, what kind of relationship would we have? He is one interesting young man……! Safe travels, Takeshi!
They were here in PDX….well, there in PDX–now an hour’s drive for me as I’m temporarily in Salem. So, as Takeshi had plans for the evening and my dear Sonia was planning to go–so did I. What a wonderful and uplifting evening! Aah, the music!! I was blessed with two tandas with Sonia–great and fun milonga sets….and a lovely tanda with a favorite young guy. A few other tanda’s filled the evening so I stayed to the end and then went to Sonia’s to sleep and drive back early next day. Felt like old times–an old times I have really missed. Next day the left hip was quite sore, but I managed okay and got back to exercising. I first saw this band in Canada several years ago–then in Bs As and now, years later, they have found their unique voice. A great sound and a joy to hear. Now I am enjoying their cds.