I have been invited to a Masquerade Black and White Party in honor of my Zumba instructor, Wanda. I actually had not opened the initial invitation as her birthday is in early April. Not only did this conflict with my infusion but also I have found it impossible to cross the street where classes are held. This is Saturday and at a hall. I wrote a Yes, then a No, then Yes; finally sending a No but getting ultimately overruled.
I started with Zumba and Wanda years ago. I had a friend who wanted to take a free Zumba class at the library. I am thinking 2009 because I already had been diagnosed. I really went along to humor my friend. It was held downstairs at the library and I arrived early to describe my problem to the instructor. No problem at all, she exclaimed. Do what I wanted and what I could and she’d watch out for me. I took my shoes off because when I dance that’s what I do. I had a blast. When she announced Pata Pata; I was sold. My healthy friend, by the way, stepped out into the hall halfway through the class, winded. I just had to rest at the top of the stairs before I put my flip flops back on. I couldn’t sign up that Fall when Wanda started offering classes through the Town but I was there in the spring and never stopped till 2 years ago. I am of Caribbean descent and the music played in class is the rhythm of my youth. They play Belafonte. In fact, when class initially started, there were quite a few West Indians.
I used to dance at the front of the class without the spectral leg and I’d do the hour or most of it, most days. And in the winter, the winter when it was frigid, we’d prop the doors wide open and let the cold in, and turn on the fans. It was always a packed class, 45 people. The Town thought we were doing so well they put in a mirrored wall which discombobulated us because that’s not how we danced. We danced facing the middle. Class was originally supposed to be two nights a week but when Wanda could, she’d offer more. One spring, I was going four nights a week. I swear I queered a job interview in another state because I just could not imagine not going to Wanda’s class.
In the summers, Wanda took a break. We lost our Town space because it was in the pool building. And after all, it was vacation time. Wanda would find a place for a class or two. One year, it was at a beach club. My condition was beginning to take a stronger grip on me. I found the shore breezes were buffeting me and I could not continue. I had always considered myself sturdy before t his.
Returning to the full group in the fall was always joyful. This class is how I envision the world. There are all sizes ,ages, colors and yes, even men. Deaf mutes; they feel the beat. It’s a real community. They have been supportive of me as much as I would let them. Originally, some thought I was the woman with a stroke. They have watched my downward slide without comment, which I appreciate.
Which brings us to the masquerade party Saturday evening; I will be attending solo with the protective shield aka rollator. I will NOT be wearing Frankie but one of the other spectral legs. Wanda reached out to me to come. She said, “You’re one of those who definitely had an impact in my life.” I HATE, HATE that kind of thing with this. Once when I couldn’t do what I wanted to, I went outside followed by Wanda’s mother. I was near tears in fear, frustration and rage. She told me I was an inspiration to the group, I was absolutely horrified. I refuse to have my life considered inspirational. Here’s the thing, we all have to live the lives we have. In my case, I have tried ( at least in my mind) to continue to do what I’ve done. It’s a choice. I could have decided to throw in the towel. Either choice is valid. My choice is my quixotic idea to continue. Not inspirational. Inspirational is the man with one hand playing pro ball.
So, Saturday evening, I will see women I haven’t seen in a few years. I dread the “OMG, what happened to you?” I stopped going to Zumba after a summer’s break. It had reached the point where I could only manage 1 of the two weekly sessions when I was working. The class had moved to a larger space. The downside was parking was across the street. I started to need help. Initially, not so much going but coming out and crossing slowly across 4 dimly lit lanes of traffic. Also, I don’t like to identify as a victim so after dark, help was needed. It was insidious. I started to need company to cross. I had had the security of the wall for some years but now I needed a chair and less endurance. Then I lost my job and with it not only my income but my walking. Even going to the gym was not enough. Here I am in the rollator.
Normally attending a Black and White Masquerade party I would have been levitating. As it was, I was, Yes! Tom was excited as we both know, I need more physical friends on the ground. And then, and then. Him: “what if there are stairs?” Me, “What am I going to wear?” All of this followed by the reality – could I drive?, could I move? Could I do it on my own? And me with the pounding thought – what am I going to WEAR??
I love my clothes. It’s how I view me. I create the persona. It’s an expression of my creativity.
I have been to Black and White parties as well as Masquerades. I had a magical evening at Tavern of the Green. Another time a boyfriend told me it was Black and White casual. DUH NO! And my husband, totally, unfamiliar thinks it is a race thing! I have tons of all black clothes and black and white clothes. The problem is my shoes. All of the above are impossible with Frankie and the clodhopper sneakers. Last year, I wore a long, black chiffon skirt with pewter, perforated oxfords! UGLY! It hurt my soul. My feet burn, despite larger shoes, blah, blah. I know this is going to drive me Wild.
Masquerades make me nostalgic. I always have masks. One wall in my bedroom was masks. Now, I can find only one. Drat, there definitely was one with white feathers. One of my ex’s daughter had an Halloween wedding, masks required. The wedding party was black and white. The bridezilla was upset that the priest wouldn’t allow her to wear her vampire teeth and the groom left the tiara home. In addition, the place cards were also masks. The uncle was given a devil mask. He heckled the best man’s toast. One of the guests exclaimed, “It’s just like “Eyes Wide Shut”
I know I have to go. I cannot ignore the graciousness of the invitation. Nor can I not take the chance to miss my community. I fear it. I don’t want to deal with the OMG’s, the ugly, hurting shoes. I won’t be able to dance with women I used to dance with. I shall be dependent which I HATE because someone will have to walk me to my car after dinner. And I am worried as I have a tea in the afternoon. My energy will already be tapped into. I feel like me when I am seated so it will be challenging to even sit through dinner. I’ll focus on the accomplishment of being there, fighting back, starting to rise again.