Give a Heart a Home
“Repeat after me: I Am Funky!”
“er…I am funky” I mumble politely.
“And I Am Beautiful!” my teacher levitates with enthusiasm whilst gyrating every limb ever so slightly within my personal space. Should have known that husband’s guffaws as I left the house to try out a free Journey Dance class up the street in someone’s apartment were called for, after all. I approach the door, making a pact with myself that if I’m the only idiot to try the class out and the “she” teacher turns out to be a “he” I’ll beat a hasty retreat, even offer a few repressed Brit quips, packing all hint of an Italian personality safely in the back pocket for more appropriate occasions. I am greeted by a diminutive lady, all smiles, so decide to stay and play.
Journey Dance is Yogi’s answer to Zumba. Same digital music system only instead of the tracks listed in cardio friendly/challenging order we work through chakras. As you do. I could have given in to teeth grinding embarrassment but I was too busy punching the air against the supposed negative forces blocking my attainment of full potential. Whilst my wrists are flicking away these shackles I take in the space. The same apartment in Park Avenue would be a palace. The history of wealth is etched in the 1930s details, the fine floor (splattered with paint in the drawing room on account of my teacher’s sudden, near violent episodes of canvas inspiration) the solid wooden double doors dividing each living space, the wainscot, the plaster cornice on the ceiling, not to mention the maid’s room turned kitchen. My hands itch to get hold of a sander for the panelling and a roller to paint over the sombre mauve hues and bring it back to palatial once again, relinquishing the tired Ikea bookcase and Formica dinner table for Deco delights. The communal hallways also grieve for better times. The beautiful, original stained lead windows are dotted with cracked or missing panes. The atmosphere is Ghost of Elegance Past. As my teacher announces my heart’s imminent revelation of my Life’s Purpose (complete with scarf flourish) I tune into her husband’s recording session in the next room and count how many bongos you can fit into an art studio. Nowhere I’d rather be of a Sunday afternoon.
Turns out my heart wanted to scribble with oil pastels and take grandma out for a girlie hair day (along with finishing it’s first novel and spreading World Peace obviously). And so we do, snaking through Harlem on a condensation heavy bus till we arrive at 116th st, hitting a salon spiked with swaggering Columbia University students and furrowed academics. Novel to sit amongst ladies amending thesis rather than finding out what Katie Holmes had for her macrobiotic breakfast last Tuesday.
Back at the ranch, true assimilation has begun – the doorbell rings and in swings our neighbour’s daughter, aged 10, asking whether she might type up her paper on our computer? Nothing like helping the kid next door to make you feel like you belong. She dictates her paper whilst I type, in between feeding Junior and bathing Boy, the latter unrecognizably meek about his nudity in the presence of an older chick. I sit and take in their Uno game as it rolls on passed bedtime, avoiding micro managing their subtle twist on the rules, when a wonderful realisation washes over me; “our” apartment has just become a home.