I am still boggled by other people thinking of me as athletic or physically accomplished. It is not a hat I am accustomed to wearing. I was clumsy as a kid, and I still have my moments. I feel less bad about this now that I know that it's a common symptom of hypermobility syndromes. In essence, my proprioception is made to spec, but my joints aren't; they have a lot more play, in multiple axes, than they're supposed to, and when they rattle out of tolerance my idea of where they are goes subtly wrong. The error bars build up over time to the point where I need to be able to see myself at rehearsal or I have no idea what I look like.

Other people do double-takes when they ask how I got somewhere and I tell them, "I walked." My theory is that, while it might take me an hour to tromp to where I need to be, that's an hour I can count on, as opposed to taking the bus, which might be exactly on time or might be forty minutes late without any warning. It is difficult to remember that other people don't walk for an hour, or dance for an hour, or knock around a weighted fitness hoop for an hour, because it would kill them dizzily, sweatily dead if they tried.

I got to the point of hooping easily for an hour because when I started out I decided that 'an hour' sounded like a nice round amount of rehearsal time to shoot for. Which I suppose just goes to show that I've never had a well-calibrated sense of normality, in any respect.

I don't feel like I can take any credit for the bendiness. Given my history, it's obviously congenital, and given my family history, it's obviously genetic. (My mother and all her sisters have always been as bendy as I am, and that side of the family has been accidentally compensating for the proprioception problem by training as dancers for generations.) I do want full marks for observing the myriad tiny ways in which it allows me to cheat at life -- everything from making certain hoop or dance steps easier, because I can rotate joints in/out/backwards much farther than normal, to whacking light switches with my feet when my hands are full, to never having encountered a fancy dress I could not zip all the way up by myself -- and for realizing I can take ruthless advantage of many of them. Fuck normal, I will just hang out with the Bohemians and the circus.

Recalibrating where I think I am on a scale of 'unimpressive' to 'amazing' has made me wonder if I could successfully take up a number of things I did not previously consider, on account of I thought they were astounding and that I was not. I can rélevé up into demi-pointe in bare feet and stay there pretty much indefinitely, which I did not realize other people couldn't do; I use it quite a bit, in fact, when I want to sneak in without waking people up in the middle of the night, to keep the loud pointy heels of my shoes off the wooden floors. In light of that, I suspect there is no good reason I could not pick up some rudimentary pointe work. As I get most of my idle practice in things like tap shoes and Harajuku Goth boots, I expect I'd want a shoe with a very hard shank and a very high vamp. I don't claim I'd look like a proper ballerina, only that I would be physically capable of doing it.

I'm still trying to figure out what it is about flipping upside-down that my brain objects to so vociferously, but once I get to the root of that, I should be able to figure out tumbling again. I quit gymnastics when I was a kid, because they wouldn't take 'no' for an answer when they wanted me on the uneven bars or the trapeze, but I'm a grownup and I can enforce that now.

So here's to 2015, when I finally realized, grudgingly, that I might kind of know what my limbs are doing after all.


  1. You are awesome. You are also limited. All human beings are of equal worth until they prove otherwise, but talents and abilities are no distributed evenly. You are in many ways blessed by nature.

    Where you have been truly lucky is to find a place your talents and skills can shine.

    May 2016 be a year of grand adventure and jolly companionship.


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