Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Fork in the Road

"Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to continue on the story."   -Tolkien

You know that saying, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it!" Rather than take that as just a lame joke, I see it as a silly way of presenting the broader truth that sometimes life opens up doors to you, and forces you to confront yourself and your fears in a new way so that you can decide whether you are called to make a change. Rather than staying in the comfort zone, with what is familiar, known and loved, we are, if we are to grow, at times called say farewell to that which is dear to us. It can be terribly painful,  yet it comes with a conviction that things happen for a reason.

And this leads to me to what is, so far, the hardest post of all to write. I debated about whether I should even write one, and yet, in fairness to the story we have told here on this little blog, as a record of a dance partnership and everything it accomplished, I think it only right.

When we began this blog, Jeff and I had started dancing together only a few months before. We were excited about our dancing, talked a lot about everything we were going to accomplish as a competitive couple, examined the top pros together, critiqued dancing, went out social dancing, and schemed and plotted about how to be the best dancers we possibly could give our circumstances. We took lessons and learned about how our prep step was amazing and "so convincing," worked out in a stinky gym 5+ days a week, practiced for hours and days on end, and burnt up the floor a bit at some of the local social dances. Somehow, in the process, we ended up being instrumental in opening a new ballroom studio, of which Jeff is now part-owner, and enjoyed the process of introducing new dancers to that pastime we had come to love so much.

Somewhere along the line though, and I think more markedly in the past few months, our enthusiasm and orientation with our dancing started to diverge a bit. Largely and perhaps solely due to some personal circumstances, Jeff had not been able to put as much into our competitive training lately, to the point that we have not actually taken a lesson as a couple in over a year now. Recently too, we had taken a break from practice, since Jeff just needed some away time for a while and thought that it would be good for me too. All of this time, since December really, I have been waiting patiently for things to settle down again after the studio opened, for us to get back to where we were with our practice and training schedule. It was worth it to me, because I believed in our potential as a partnership and what we had accomplished so far. Yet recently, I began to sense that this was not going to happen anytime soon, if at all. Jeff is in far less of a "rush" than I am to make progress with our dancing, yet for my part I hear a carpe diem loud and clear. We had some talks about it, and it become more and more clear to me that we just don't have the same motivation anymore, at least right now. We want different things out of the dancing. While that was fine for a while, when we were both in a position where we could work hard and forge ahead, now that circumstances have changed, it's going to take a common goal and motivation to move us forward. That is what I felt we were missing.

So I was faced with a choice. Continue to practice sporadically and without direction with Jeff, in the hopes that at some point he will be able to take it to another level and pursue it more seriously as we had before, or to start taking lessons and practicing with another partner to prepare seriously for competition. You'd think it would be a simple choice, but it actually tore me apart. As I guess has become evident on this blog, I have something of an emotional attachment to dancing, and to the partnership that Jeff and I created surrounding it. Leaving all of that, my hopes and dreams for the future, most of what I associated with my joy in dancing, this, I felt, would hurt too much. Yet at the same time I had to remind myself that my decisions about my dancing should be made with regard to what will help my dancing the most, rather than what will make me feel comfortable right now. How could I live with myself later knowing that I had the chance to really go for it and never did? Naturally, I presented the choice that lay before me to Jeff, in the hopes that he was ready to take it to another level and continue on more seriously, because I so badly wanted to continue dancing with him and pursuing those goals we had shared. But unfortunately, it was not to be. Thus, I decided that my dancing should come first, and that I must not pass this opportunity by. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. Perhaps it shouldn't have been, but it felt like I was taking an ax to something that meant a great deal to me and into which I had poured so much of myself.

So, all of this is to say that, since Jeff and I are no longer training together as dance partners, at least for the time being, the purpose of this blog has been fulfilled. Perhaps our paths will re-converge, in fact, that would be my hope, but I cannot know what the future will bring, and must only forge on ahead, working hard and taking every opportunity I can to become a better dancer. Maybe I will start a new blog in which to document my own musings as I go forward, but this blog was specific to Jeff and I, and so I want it to follow our story to the end.

Finally, I want to thank Jeff for the countless hours he dedicated to our partnership, for sharing his enthusiasm for dancing, for teaching me how to lift weights, for being a good driver, and for being such a good friend and not fighting all the time like everyone else does. I learned how to follow because of him, and for that I cannot ever thank him enough. He is an extraordinarily talented guy, and I am fully aware of just how lucky I was to call him my partner for the past year and half. Nobody dances Viennese Waltz quite like him. :)

And now for some photos from showcase:

Tango Promenade. Decently straight, and much less polite than it used to be! 
And let me just say that I am quite happy with how my red dress turned out.

This was Viennese Waltz. 
I think I was laughing because he had just finished inserting "patty cakes." 
That's Jeff for you.

The "Fascinating Dance Partners"