On Monday, my brave and generous husband accompanied me to a Tango lesson. I have always wanted to know how to dance some sort of pre-designed dance with steps, twirls and dips. I never took a lesson, and I'm famous in my household for grabbing someone and leading (even though I don't know what I'm really doing). My 10-year-old is the most willing to let me lead him. We've developed a few moves: "The Roll In," "The Overhead Hand Slide," and "The Dramatic Please Don't Drop Me Dip." We have a blast, and usually end up falling down, tripping, or banging into furniture. But I want some new material. And, I admit to fantasizing about spontaneously becoming Ginger Rogers on the floor.
I think the universe is laughing its ass off now (black hole?), because Tango is all about surrendering control. The women walk backwards and - often - close their eyes. I found myself dancing backwards with strangers with my eyes shut, listening to the beautiful music and attempting to communicate through subtle arm touches and invisible personal space. It is real work to be that effortless. I have a constant inner monologue of: "Let him lead. Don't lead. You're leading." Each dance partner has a different style and varying levels of assertiveness with steps. The more confident leaders are easier to follow. My feminist brain is exploding, as this challenges pretty much every comfort zone I possess. But somehow I am enthralled. It is an adrenaline rush to let go and trust. Following requires strength, grace and intuition. It is as close as I'll get to skydiving and I am sort of high at the end of class. I am awkward, and over-smiley, stepping on toes, apologetic, sweating. And I can't wait for next week. Learning to surrender control and roll with the punches is exactly what I am working on in my professional life, my emotional life, my health and now on a dance floor.
And now that I am so perfect and complete with my 1-hour mastery of trust and surrender (what control issues?)... yesterday, my dog made her move.
I was showering, when I noticed a strange smell. Had I lit a bit of incense and forgotten? Was there a belt in the ceiling fan having issues? I opened the shower door, and the scent was stronger. I nervously opened the door to the hallway and could tell instantly. Yelling to no one, "SOMETHING IS BURNING!" I thundered down the stairs wearing only my shower cap. A pizza box was being happily consumed by flames on the cooktop. I took a moment to thoroughly freak out, yell, flap my arms and make that incoherent panic-moaning sound that you do when words completely fail you. (There was even a flash of a thought that if someone had seen me, I might now be an unfortunate YouTube sensation.)
I threw the pizza box in the sink, somehow expecting that would automatically extinguish the fire, and then noticed that the burner was on. Two pieces of pizza had fallen out of the box and were contentedly blazing away on the cooking grate. There was a Scooby Doo moment of looking back and forth several times (and saying "Ruh-roh") before I jumped into action. I turned the water on (I know. I'm a genius.) and got the spray nozzle pointed at the pizza box. Then I turned off the burner and smothered the pizza slices with a towel. The water created an instant smoke cloud, at which point the smoke alarm finally began to chime in.
The whole debacle lasted probably only a minute, but the kitchen was littered in ash and hazy smoke filled the house from top to bottom. I began shaking uncontrollably as I called my husband. We realized that our dog had jumped up to try and steal some pizza out of the box, and turned on a burner in the process. My husband pointed out that it could have easily happened when I was not home, and we would have lost everything.
Between my weird unresolved health issue, learning to dance backwards, and putting out pizza fires I am really being schooled in living in the moment. It would be easy to become fearful now (I did hesitate before lighting a candle this morning), but I'm finding strength in all this. If you don't ever test out your super powers, how do you know if they work?
That said, I may take a week off from reading "The Fire Starter Sessions." It's a little too close to home.