Body memory is a tricky thing.
Years ago, I was a cheerleader. No, not the uberathetic kind--my school was small, we didn't exactly have world-class gymnast level girls going on. Just cheering, some jumping, some stands, etc. However, I could do two things pretty well. One, a backbend, though getting to the ground was, again, tricky. The second was the cartwheel/round-off. I could do both and multiples pretty well.
However, between JV cheerleader my freshman year and turning sophmore, I hit my last growth spurt--about an inch or so, but it did throw me off. And I didn't have time to do varsity anyway, as I was UberExtraCurricularActivites girl at the time. I haven't been able to do a cartwheel since probably my first year in college. It always went badly. Think--something dying messily on the ground. That's me and a cartwheel.
But. Odd thing today.
My younger sisters, son, niece, mother, and I all practiced, ON FILM NO LESS, our ability to still carry out this terrifying activity.
Mom does it well. Sister One does it pretty good. Sister Two okay. Me? Not so much. Of course, didn't help I was trying it in my work clothes and three inch heels, but I comfort myself that passers-by were mightily intrigued by my attempts. So, stripping the shoes, I tried a running start.
It's the first time in probably eight years I did one. And--weird thing. I knew before my hands touched the ground it was going to work this time. Just *knew*. And voila, legs straight, back straight, legs came down right, and okay, bent knees on landing, but Jesus, I'm five ten and not terribly flexible. I was pretty damn straight.
And just amazed. So did a few more, and it hit *every* time. Round-off, not so much, but I figure with practice, my body will remember how that works, too. Then my wrist hurt and my feet hurt and I stopped, but--but wow.
So, body memory. Like--for those who play piano, bet you can play that one song still note-perfect, eyes closed, never miss a beat. Two hands, even. Choose your instrument, then. I can still do Enigma: Nimrod Veriations, first and second clarinet by memory. I don't have the breathing control and I sure as hell don't have the pitch practice or the mouth to make it pure, but--if I just close my eyes, I can still play every note and every slur.
That second when you stop thinking and just *do*.
Like typing, or like dancing--yes. I was a terrible dancer, so my first year in college, I took ballroom dance. I had to teach my body how to move, and then had to teach it how to remember to move without me remembering it myself--to relax into it. And I remember this one guy--God, at Fort Hood, at this country dance club that every damn soldier on base went to, and he was *good*. And fast. And it was the year after I'd taken dance class, and he asked me to dance, and I remember that the first few seconds, I was trying to remember, one-two-three-four, backward, dont' fight for control turn here, count the beat--and then remembered to forget that all together and just *do*. And how it all just--smoothed out. Like today, when I ran and did the little skip, and my body instantly understood what it was I was trying to do, flipped off my head, and let it happen.
It's--perfect. Even when it's not.
There are other things my body remembers that I don't, and it usually is just when I'm not paying attention. Bicycle, for one--especially after this year's earlier adventures, let's face it, I was overthinking when trying to explain to Child. Balancing on a tree branch--it's easy, it's not getting over the fear, it's letting your body remember how to balance itself. It doesn't NEED you to think about it. All it really needs is for you to stop interfering and let it happen.
It's--kind of a high feeling, at least for me. It's like being free--I can think of anything else, or just enjoy the moment. And it happens so rarely. I'm an overthinker, always have been.
A few years ago, around Child's third birthday, I took a jazz dance class for PE credit. Terrible stuff, in some ways--I lost weight I couldnt' afford to lose because I'd get sick during class if I ate beforehand, but after, I was too exhausted to eat until well after nightfall. I hurt my back trying to bend in ways that, frankly, nature never intended me to bend. All the girls with me were a LOT better--flexible, with a history of dance classes behind them. So I'd go in an hour early and pre-warm up, then stretch until class, just to be ready to warm-up and stretch with the class and at least *feel* like I was making progress. And I thought a lot, and I'd overstrain my muscles to keep up and end up with icyhot on the backs of my thighs every night, and during the early days, would be forcing my heels to the ground in the morning because my hamstring was so tight. This is something I know about--I couldn't even do those squats when I played basketball without a board under my heels so I could crouch with the bar on my shoulders--what the HELL is that called in the weight room?
Eight weeks, three days every week, two and a half hours, I'd be in that room, trying to learn something that I was not really able to learn.
But. There were three things. Three really COOL things. And it was all body memory.
One was work at the bar. We had to bend flat over, grab it with our hands, and relax our backs in five stages from head to ass. I have no idea what it was called, and I honestly think it's one of the hardest things I've done--I'd literally be sweating onto the floor during it, and I could not figure it out. So my teacher came over and put her hand on my neck and showed me exactly what muscles to relax--then lower, moving all the way down to my tailbone, and checking to make sure I stayed relaxed. Then we tightened up again, same stages, slow and easy. We did it about five times before she left me on my own, and since she'd taught my body, it knew what to do. I remember all of us panting after, not because it was strenuous, but because of the concentratin it took to keep those muscles relaxed or tight in the right pattern.
Thing was, I didn't know that my body got it until the next day.
And so we leaned over, and I was already getting ready to stress myself, and I remember my inner thighs were killing me because I'd been trying to do a split (fifth try since class started), and she turned on some stupid song--I want to say Brittany Spears, but pick a pop girl and yo'ure good. Anyway, it distracted me and she gave the command and I was singing along under my breath and hating the world and boom.
Just--flipped into place. Like a *snap*.
It took concentration and work and still was hard as hell--but it wasn't frustrating. My back was doing *exactly what it was supposed to do*. I didn't have to remember the pattern--my body knew that. I didn't need to remember to relax or tighten. All I needed to do was have the control to do it. The rest my back took care of. And for once, I wasn't sore after.
Same with my front split, come to think. There were a set of stretches at the barre that i don't remember the spelling of, most were in French, but one was a turn on the ball of one foot, sliding out into a split. That day, I finally got within two inches of the floor and even my teacher was pleased to see actual progress. Palms flat, head up, and there. Got it. I'd never managed it before in my life and I never have again since class ended.
But damned if I don't know that if I want to, I certainly can pull it off again.
With enough stretching, of course.
I had a long day today, two of our front still in training so short-staffed, I have two scheduled dates for dental surgery, my jaw is sore, my back hurts, and I haven't logged the nominations from last night and today yet for the_treasury. Six advisors called in sick today and we are going to be deliquent on all cases for the next three months and probably get the state review board on our asses. My sister got turned down on a lease and Child climbed a tree today and I had to play the completely blase mother and encourage it calmly while hoping to God that he didn't fall and contemplating having all the trees in the world cut down, despite my logic, that tells me that discouraging his explorative side and his physical side will be disasterous in interactions with his peer groups. Stupid child psychology class. And I did all this wearing my favorite three inch black heels which, I admit, make my legs look killer with black hose, but does not really help at all with wanting to save child from himself. And my dentist refuses me painkillers until Monday, after I've been on antibiotics for a bit longer. And I won't even start on what YESTERDAY and the day before were like, becaue frankly? I'm very fond of repression and think more people should try it.
But. Don't care. I'm twenty-seven years old and eleven years from being the girl who wore short skirts and did cheers and could play entire basketball games and exhaust myself, cheer football games for hours and lose my voice, and today, in freshly mowed grass, fucking NAILED a cartwheel wearing hose, my shorts, and a t-shirt.
Hose because I'm dumb like that and forgot to take them off while frantically changing clothes so I could go have some recess. *grins*
It makes me curious what else I remember that I don't know about. I can still do cheers from junior high, complete with moves. I can still do most of the JV dance routine if I hear "Ice Ice, Baby" (God, please don't ask me to explain the song choice).
And I can still do the two step, the cha-cha, the waltz, and the tango without missing a step.
I should go dancing soon. I want to see how much it remembers.
Kernezelda and Suz are going at it again. I'm watching this with much in the way of fascination. I'm also drinking chocolate milk and thinking that life simply rocks. Because, honestly? It totally does.