18. The Last Dance: The Last Straw

WHAT WAS THE LAST STRAW THAT BROKE YOU (or said “enough!”)?  

BLOG 18: June-July, 1997—I am sharing dinner with my friend Jane and her girlfriend on the patio of my new home in Oakland, California. With good wine, food, and a view that looks out over the entire San Francisco Bay, it’s hard to imagine a better place to be. We are living in paradise, I think. The water and the outlying mountains feel like a tropical Asian land far away from the Americas.

I am excited to have finally made it here after an eight-month hiatus in New Mexico. I am back on track with my original plan to relocate in this dynamic area of the country. Despite my injury that slowed me down in the desert lands—and my calves that feel as hard as surfboards from having moved all of my belongings up four flights of stairs—I’m now taking modern dance classes in San Francisco and Berkeley. I surrender my body to the music, and move through the pain and tightness in my body, and my limited training among dancers with many more years of experience.

I begin my work as at a temporary agency for artists, helping artists find jobs in creative industries. It’s a nice part of town, along Berkeley’s bay, and in a loft area shared with other artists and residents. When I’m not working, though, I’m in dance studios where, especially in San Francisco, I feel out of my league. Fit, trim, elegant dancers move across the floor with much more grace than I feel I have (or a lot more training to make it look easy).

My passion for dance inspires me to keep going, though, until I take a ballet class. As I am lifting up my right leg and pivoting it around my body, my legs begin to weaken below me. It’s only one movement, but just the perfect one to break my innate strength and stubborn disposition that has kept me going so far since having pulled a tendon or ligament, possibly off the bone, in my inner thigh eight months ago. When I finish the class, I sit on the studio floor and stretch my legs along with other dancers. But I feel it. My body is crying what my eyes dare not show. This was the last straw. My body has had enough.

For weeks after that class, I walk as well as I can. But something is wrong. I feel as if I am walking over my right hip joint. My femur is not moving correctly in my hip socket. The more I walk, the more inflamed my hip becomes, and the less I am able to move. I begin walking with crutches and become desperate to find relief from my pain. I seek out healers, but little helps until my friend Geri drives me out of the city to a highly recommended chiropractor. After looking at my condition, the chiropractor jerks my right leg and returns the femur bone to its correct position.

I was out of alignment; the bone was stuck in the joint. He fixed the issue and my hip feels better, but it seems it never quite returns to the hip I had taken for granted for almost thirty years of my life.

WHAT WAS THE LAST STRAW THAT BROKE YOU (or said, “enough!”)?

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7 thoughts on “18. The Last Dance: The Last Straw

  1. “I begin my work as at a temporary agency for artists, helping artists find jobs in creative industries. It’s a nice part of town, along Berkeley’s bay, and in a loft area shared with other artists and residents.”

    So interesting to revisit this story of yours after so many years. I’m not sure I ever knew that you did that work, though.

    I have been broken and reassembled in so many ways over the years. I suppose the most recent example was the last solo Flamenco gig I played–probably three or four years ago now. My left hand (and really my entire right arm) had already been giving me some trouble on and off for many years. Years of working with my disabled son Jake did more damage, as did a motorcycle accident in 2009. Ulnar nerve compression and nerve entrapment in my neck and left shoulder would cause my entire arm alternately to go numb or burn furiously. When my fingers went numb, I would find it very difficult to play accurately, and my confidence crumbled. I decided then that I was fighting a battle I could not win, and retired from performance. Letting go of that has been like saying goodbye to an old, old friend. Bittersweet and sad, but the right thing to do for me.

    Ultimately, it led to intensifying my interest and involvement in lutherie, which has been such a rewarding and fruitful journey. I feel that I may someday return to live performing again, but I no longer “need’ it the way I once did. I had to be broken — yet again — to free myself from that need.

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    • It’s been a long road where I tried many different types of work to be able to be an artist with an income. I didn’t know the details about what happened with your playing and your left shoulder. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that. It is odd sometimes, when we feel we are doing what we love, yet we are blocked from moving forward. I like your attitude with it of learning to let go of what you thought you needed. When I think about your life, you’ve had to do a lot of that, and I commend you for your strength through it.

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      • One small correction to my post– left arm, not right. It has gotten so that I can’t play for more than 15 minutes before the combination of pain and numbness becomes too much. While this is bearable for light practice and playing a few pieces at home, it doesn’t cut it for performing. I have good days, but it’s impossible to guess when those will be. So — time to say enough. Time once again to let go. There are many, many paths to walk in this life, and all of them hold unknown truths, challenges, sorrows and beauty.

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      • Sorry, wrong arm! You know with my hip they finally discovered a bone spur that they removed. It had been pressing on my nerves and was damaging the cartilage, causing inflammation and all the pain.

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  2. A very fine post…. it is interesting that it could also apply to may other situations, as we might be all `out of alignment´ somehow… and then, as Nature does, we tend to achieve a more balanced state…
    As to your question the last straw that broke me was probably symbolic lack of action and communication in a relationship— I just felt I was done …with Silence, you know. 😒
    Sending best wishes, Aquileana ☀️

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    • Yes, there are so many “out of alignment” moments in our lives…some more out of aligned than others. For me, these earlier years I write about were much more extreme in that way. Everything was much more extreme as I feel it is when we are younger because we haven’t learned how to truly walk from our center, trusting ourselves and the way. In terms of your relationship, long silence can sure be draining and eventually something has to give! Blessings to you. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. The last straw for me was after “winning” two lawsuits where although I won on principle, I no longer had any money to live in the town I lived in. This was the last of a long chain of events where I struggled to live in a town that required a high income. 4 job changes, 8 relocations within the town, then a major multi year bout with diabetes, starting a small business with no capital, but a long and respected reputation for my work; then the lawsuits, both of which I started.

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