Dedicated to Sia, and every other aspiring dancer who ever went “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 3” a little too aggressively.
I should have never taken introductory ballroom dance.
It’s like I was asking for a disaster–I’ve always known that I wasn’t an athlete. I think some people need to be reminded of that from time to time, like when a really good high school football player thinks they’re going to play professional football, or when my roommate doesn’t invite me to play tennis because I “don’t take it seriously enough.” I was never the person that needed to be reminded, and then I took introductory ballroom dance. In reality, I took it 72% to impress someone I was dating, and 28% because my ultimate goal in life is to be just famous enough to end up on Dancing with the Stars, but no more famous than that. Surprisingly, I found out that I was decent at keeping hold and was strong enough to lift my partner. This only adds to my theory that life is best spent living mediocrely. Living mediocrely, and making up words, like mediocrely.
Upon more and more practices, our instructor decided to keep my partner and I after class to teach us more lifts and tricks. Soon, we were doing beautiful tangos to Shakira and waltzes to SheDaisy, who had finally found a way to be relevant in my life again after a nearly ten year hiatus. But then, one day, I decided that the perfect waltz song would be Sia’s “Lullaby.” And it was. But when trying to perform a lift, I caught my partner incorrectly, and I felt my wrist snap. Clearly, I didn’t like getting hurt, but I also kind of did. I had never been an athlete. Up until that point in my life, every trophy I’d ever received was academic based (yes–that’s a thing). But I got to wear a brace on my wrist and man did I look totes masculine. We continued to practice because I was the Jordyn Weber on the amateur ballroom dancing circuit, and then low and behold, it snapped again–same lift. same song. same Sia.
Three years and 20 degrees from a properly functioning wrist later, I had come to understand that while I loved ballroom dancing and occasionally going on a light run, I was no athlete. I had left college and introductory dance classes behind, but unfortunately, that hunger to compete had never subsided. I got in from work one night and laid on the couch, playing the game many young people in their 20’s like to play: the “I wish I had more friends, but I don’t want to move” game. For over an hour, I would look at my roommates every four or five minutes and say, “Screw it. I’m going out. I deserve it,” followed by a heavy sigh two minutes later saying, “But I’d be just as happy staying in.” Eventually he got so sick of it that he went to his room, so I put on pants and left.
I went to a friend’s house and only had a glass or two (ok a bottle whatever I’m not mad) of wine. I’m not sure how the night progressed, but the coffee table had been moved from the living room and one of my friend’s roommates was teaching a couple other people how to hip hop dance to a YouTube video. Feeling completely and rationally threatened, I stood against the wall, resentful. What even is hip hop dancing, anyway? Like… I know that the kids like to pop and lock and stuff, but like, where’s the expression? Where’s the finesse? That’s when I had an idea–the idea, really.
When the song ended, I asked if we could turn on Sia’s “Chandelier.” At a number of events prior, I had done abbreviated versions of Maddie Ziegler’s “Chandelier” routine–granted, none had ever been as thorough or purposeful as I intended this one to be. I wanted to make a statement in life, not because a statement was necessary or because I was being attacked in any sort of way, but more because I find discomfort in not being the center of attention, especially after I’ve had wine. While there is no video evidence, I like to believe that it was my most beautifully executed attempt at the dance, with particular attention given to the floor routine portion of the dance. However, as I neared the two minute mark, I went in for an ambitious pirouette (and landed it), but I felt a pop. My knee had given out (again–optional story in italics).
Okay, so long story short, there was a girl in college who was running against me for student government who said, “Make a smart vote, not a dumb vote!” and handed out dum dums, but when she said it, she would maneuver her body as if she were collapsing, almost. Thus, my campaign consisted of me recreating her stupid pitch, and in the midst of it, that was the first time I dislocated my knee. I also won that election.
As my knee gave out, my foot wasn’t able to catch me, and that’s when it twisted. And then it snapped. I came crashing down and let out a terrible moan. The room kept laughing because humans are awful and nothing, even dance art, is sacred, but after I didn’t get up, everyone disappeared. Well, except one of the roommates, who immediately went and fetched all the bags of frozen vegetables out of the fridge. Ultimately, they were all tiny bags, and I had to choose which ailment to tend to–it was a physical Sophie’s Choice, and I ultimately settled on me knee, rationalizing that if they had to amputate from the knee down, I would lose the foot anyway. After about thirty minutes, I decided to just go home because I had failed and more than just my ego was bruised.
I called an Uber, and for some reason, everyone in that house let me go home. I called my roommate and asked if he would meet me downstairs to help me up, and he said he would see me when I got home. Alas, he wasn’t there, and I impressed even myself with my ability to do Lisa Turtle’s “The Sprain” all the way up two sets of stairs, and down an entire hallway to my apartment door, where my roommate opened up the door and said, “What can I do to help?” I used to do a similar thing after dinner, where I’d wait until my mom was finishing the last of the dishes, and then I’d offer a hand. I told him that there was nothing to do, and naively, I took two Advil and drank a glass of water and went to sleep.
The next morning, I finally gave in and went to the Urgent Care, half super-nervous that I could have broken my foot, but also half super-jazzed because I had health insurance and that had never happened to me before. I made friends with the nurses, as one does, and eventually, I got an x-ray. That x-ray led to another x-ray, followed by an MRI, which led to a really old man telling me that I had a lis franc injury. I asked if that had anything to do with Lisa Frank, which is apparently not only an inappropriate joke, but a dated one. Apparently, lis franc injuries happen to people who are athletic or aggressively sporty, at minimum, so this was definitely an anomaly. The doctor told me that if I had any hopes of a football career, it would be over–thankfully, lis franc injuries do not affect aspirations of being an Emmy-nominated writer or a career wino. When I told my friend Aja about what was to come, she told me that it was going to suck… and not in the “Oh, man, I’m so sorry, that sucks” kind of way, but in the, “I’m going to shoot you straight, you might want to throw yourself off a building” way. Fortunately, I struggled with mobility, so that wasn’t an option.
Over the next six months, I would have two surgeries, a really bitchin’ purple cast, two medical boots, crutches, a knee scooter, and a failed relationship (what?!) to show for my misgivings. And in a very Hallmark-esque way, the whole thing was a giant learning experience… well, not the scooter part. I had the scooter just long enough that it almost came to be part of my ~personal brand~ and if that had happened, I actually would have killed myself. But the biggest lessons that I learned is that dancing like no one is watching is the fastest way to not dance again for a really long time. Also, very similar to The Hunger Games, people are good at things for a reason–you are good at your OWN things for a reason. Don’t try to do someone else’s (Maddie Ziegler’s) thing, when you can just do your own.
But at the end of the day, the biggest lesson is that party girls can, and oftentimes do, get hurt.