I sat on the dance studio floor, surrounded by scuff marks and swollen marley. Brown Studio was the brand new rehearsal space's embarrassing older sister, but damn did it have charm. It settled at the end of a winding basement staircase. The air turned musty with each step down, down, down. It must have flooded there years ago. The 20-foot studio ceilings were perforated by windows along the top perimeter. Light was scarce, hazy at best, but graciously filtered to make my dehydrated undergraduate skin look soft in the afternoon glow. I stared at my hands. They were supposed to write, but all I could do was aimlessly avert my gaze until my eyes fell onto my best friend, sitting diagonally from me on the used-to-be sprung floors furiously adding word after word into her Dance Composition journal. Right. I was supposed to be answering this question: What do I want to see?
It was the oddest question. I didn't understand. What do I want to see? I don't know. A paycheck? Significance? Some reassurance that if I have tens of thousands of dollars of student loans backing me up into my thirties that I will be compensated in some monetary fashion for my Theatre and Dance degree?
It wasn't that I was merely cynical. After all, I had not one but two performance majors and an unwavering enthusiasm to pursue them both in where else but the easiest place on earth to live, New York City. In fact, every choice I made from 18-22 years of age easily expelled cynicism from coloring my vocabulary. It was the word want. I knew the words: work hard for, pay dues to get, struggle the longest and maybe it'll pay off. I didn't know the word want.
Want implied that I could have anything. Want implied I would know what that anything should be. Want was empowering, or it could have been, but for me it struck fear so tight against my chest that my fingers stopped moving and I neglected my free write in order to scour the room for signs of other blocked would-be journalers.
Everyone was writing. How did they know?
Maybe I was reading too deeply into this question. Maybe I just needed to say, men in dance belts, and be done with it.
I started scribbling, "I don't know what I want to see." And then, from nowhere, a cascade of adjectives, mainly colors at first. Then I moved into patterns, shapes, and later, truths. Ideas. A scrapped together love of life without borders, barriers, or fear-built enclosures around my work. I wrote about wanting to see change and evolution. About wanting to see juxtaposition and ordered chaos. About deep bone-dwelling love and courage, lots of courage.
Our professor told us to stop writing. But wait just a second, I thought. I had to finish, but how could I? There would always be more I wanted to see. How could I be satisfied and put the period at the end of the page when there was a world just opening up? I put my pen down and got ready to dance. I'd have to filter whatever was left in my hands into my movement.
I hoped I would pick up where I left off. I hoped my graduated, degree-clad, future self would keep seeking out beautiful colors, shapes, and patterns. I hoped I would evolve and feel bone-dwelling love and never put my pen down in the pursuit of answering that question: What do I want to see?
The light bent down from the far away windows to my spot on the floor. The dust settled in the beams as if it were making a nest for the final few hours of the day, happy it had found its home before darkness erased it. It caught my eye, and I danced.