Meet the Y: Laurie

When I joined the Y, I was facing down a personal abyss of midlife disappointment, the kind that precludes sleep with incessant self-judgement. I was ready to try something, anything new. So I took a chance. I tried Zumba.   On that first day of class, I was stiff and awkward and literally out of step. I tried to lift my right arm, but my left followed. I shuffled forward, but somehow slid back. I was terrible but I was moving. Our instructor, Carlie, beamed nonetheless; in her eyes I was clearly doing something right. I kept going to classes and, during freestyle moments, she’d come back and highfive those of us hiding out in the back row.  More than once, I found myself quietly crying as we stretched to Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself.  In fact, all the songs she chose provided inspiration, and release.  Overtime, I shook it with Lizzo, lost myself a for a full 10 seconds at a time with Jennifer Lopez belting out ni tú, ni yo. I found strong dancers to stand behind and follow, but I did not become good, nor will I—probably ever. Becoming good is not the point.  The point is when I freed myself not to fret, even for an hour a week, I discovered my life wasn’t as stuck as I’d thought. I got more comfortable with perceived flaws, and stopped wishing so much for something more. A friend recently told me how she copes with anxiety: she pretends she’s someone else. Not someone else entirely, but a different, more confident version of herself. The person others often see. I admit, I still don’t look in the mirror as I dance, but I think I’m growing a Zumba me. Laurie Filipelli is the author of two books of poems: Elseplace (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2013) and Girl Paper Stone (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). She lives in Austin where she coaches, edits and blogs as 
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