Toll booths, Chandeliers, and Magnificent sobs


They say great works of art exist out of pain, hurt, anger, despair, and a deep, aching sadness.

A friend of mine today told me they are in awe of my optimism, hopefulness, and positive approach towards others. Given the option to select words to describe myself, I would probably choose words such as those. So as an overall happy person, I want to believe that great art and writing can come from this place where love and sunshine is exploding.

For a year, I kept a blog about “the little things in life”: you know, it’s the things that bring you unexpected smiles, laughs, and sheer, indescribable joy. The silver linings to the dark clouds hanging over your day. The reasons to claim happiness over anything else that threatens to steal your heart and life of it’s passion and satisfaction….

Ice cream on a hot day.

Finding a twenty in your pants pocket.

A comical interaction with a tooth booth worker.

Instead….here I am, finding myself writing a rather different type of blog post from that previous blog, reflecting on a heavy sadness from the past few days. This blog, about tango, about the sadness the dance lets me hold, about the way it has shown me an avenue….if I choose to take it….to express my feelings without guilt, fear, shame, or denial. Maybe there’s some truth to how great art is given breath from these things of torment.

I was at wedding number 4 of this summer season and thought, this is really not the time or place to let loose a waterfall of giant, powerful, uncontrollable, trembling crying jags. But there the imminent feeling was….in need of a navy seal’s ability to hold it down. Or whatever could possibly be trained to have more suppressible strength.

If anyone asked about me, I talked about anything I wasn’t emotionally invested in.

The weather.

Classes I will take in the fall.

A funny response my mom said when I called to find out what I should bring to the family party on the 4th of July.

Catching fireflies with my little gal pal outside.

How cute the flower girls were. How beautiful the bride was.

“The bruschetta! IS. SO. GOOD. It’s divine. Eat and be blessed.”

If I tapped into anything that felt like ‘me’, I feared I would crumble. And a wedding is not exactly the place or time to lose it like that. Oh, especially if it is not yours. Would you want ‘drama queen’ or ‘attention-whore’ stamped on your forehead at that event? I desperately didn’t but it seemed as if that’s where the emotions were flowing to. From an outsider’s perspective perhaps. (An insensitive, mean outsider’s perspective! Asking for a liiiiitle bit of kindness and compassion here.)

I walked through the tables at the reception and started a stream of thoughts that seemed to be desperate, fearful mantras…

Don’t hug me.

Don’t ask about me.

Don’t say something nice to me or I will unfold, soften, fall down, and sob magnificently.

Sensitive? Fragile? Hurt? Oh. yes.

But please hug me.

Please ask what’s wrong.

Tell me I look captivating, that I am good, that you are so glad I am here.

Hold me so that when my legs get weak, I’m somehow still in one piece.

I really don’t want to crash and shatter into a million, embarrassing, tiny pieces like a fallen crystal chandelier.


And please let me find my way to my bed where I can unleash this messy, glorious waterfall of sadness in my own private lagoon.

I suppose, through this experience, I am learning that sadness and joy can exist at the same time. I was happy to celebrate two friends declaring their own love, happy to see old friends who have moved away, happy to experience it all with a group of people that feel like family to me. I’m still learning how to communicate that ambivalence though.

At the end of the night, a man that is very much like a second Dad to me asked me to dance. It’s funny to me, as a dancer, how I enjoy the simplicity of a slow dance at a wedding with someone who means something dear to me. The dance itself isn’t anything pretty, or in sync, or connected but it holds all the emotion I may want it to.

Second Dad asked me how everything was going….not in the ‘wassup’ or ‘what’s new’ kind of way. His heart meant to ask this question directly to my heart. At that moment, I felt like there was a waterfall into my heart and I could only gurgle a brief response….”I’m having a hard time….the one person I want most to share this experience with is not available to me.” It wasn’t the right time or place, physically, to accept the invitation to share what I was truly feeling. And within myself, it wasn’t the right time or emotional place to express something…I didn’t have the amount of words necessary to pour out what I was feeling.

Like great art though, when I sat down to write, I found this event and this heavy sadness had given me a consuming inspiration that spun out many words. I still don’t like being sad, even if it means producing a good and intriguing blog post, but I know it’s not something to deny now. Being sad… my teacher once said, can be totally tango normal.


  • Pamela

    • Jul 24, 2013

    Wow. What an amazing piece of writing. I want to hear the next chapter.

  • Glenn

    • Jul 25, 2013

    The beauty of this writing caught me off guard. Raw and beautiful, and captures basic human emotion perfectly. Reflecting on sadness not to relieve it , but to experience it fully and with acceptance.

Comments are closed.