Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whirling Dervish

I was a young girl of eight years. Pale and soft, still smiling with the slightest provocation, still open to the world as it came in through my eyes and bedroom window. I had on a new white dress with yards of soft cotton fabric that lifted with the movement of my legs and floated like clouds and mermaid hair. It was my habit to stand barefoot on the front yawn and spin. On sunny days or the cool afternoons of fall, I would stand there and twirl with my arms raised, open, inviting the sun and wind to come to me. Layers of air would cut past me as I moved through space, cutting the air with my outstretched palms.
Sometimes I would close my eyes and just focus on the feeling of turning and turning, but most of the time I would keep my eyes open and see the blur of colors. Streaks of green and brown and blue. My eyes were a camera lens that didn’t have time to focus, just gagged streaks that darted and soft colors that called me “friend.” I caught the hazy image of a red car and the hedges dotted with pink flowers and red flowers. I was like a ballerina in a music box, turning because it was the only thing I wanted, the only thing I was. In my peripheral vision I could see the white of my flowing skirt and the tender neon green of the grass turning around my small white feet.
After many rotations, I would lose control of my head and the weight of it would pull back hard towards my back and I could then see the blue sky through the blurry green and yellow tree tops and the golden glow of sunlight. With my eyes closed now, I concentrated on the feel of the tingling wind on my face and hands and bare ankles. It rushed past, softly grazing my bulging cheeks. My beating heart thudded in a chest that didn’t seem completely my own.
With each pivot more air filled my lungs and the excitement grew in my belly. It was the edge, the verge of chaos. How long could I spin, how long could the skirt twirl around my thin legs and my smile hold? How long could my stomach hang on for the ride? How long before my eyes gave up on their attempt to identify the blurred fragments of forgotten forms? Just when would I collapse? When would the chaos topple me over, sending me back to safe stability?
My little feet turned and turned, moving in the same small space, turning and turning, taking me for the ride I wanted, always on the cusp of too much. Something that begins, must always end, and though I learned to endure and turn longer than I ever thought possible, breaking my own limits again and again, at some point I would always fall over, my body simply unable to handle the circles any longer.
When I finally succumbed to gravity and tired muscles, I would lie on the grass, the dew soaking through my dress, cooling my hot skin. Laying there with my eyes open, the world continued to move even though I had stopped. It contracted and pulsed in the flowing pattern of a giant kaleidoscope. I watched it continue to turn without me. An overwhelming, slightly scary feeling would wash over me as I realized, " I am part of the pattern. The shapes, the movement. It moves through me, it is me, and also nothing at all.”