Friday, May 8, 2009

Let's get some shoes...

“Sometimes it’s hard to walk in a single person’s shoes, that’s why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun.”            
~ Carrie, SATC Season 6, “A Woman’s Right To Shoes”

Today was fantastic.

It's about time for a fantastic day. This week was another one of those heinous, terrible weeks where everything is just incredibly stressful (I pulled another all nighter on Wednesday night... that's two Wednesdays in a row...). I've had finals, and papers, and journals, and theatre, and scene work, and dance rehearsal. It was overwhelming. A heinous weekend, and two treacherous weeks in a row? How does this happen?

Today made it all worth it.

I woke up late. It was so nice to actually sleep. Well, sleep for more than an hour at a time, because that's all your allowed to sleep, because you can't waste anymore time.. there are assignments that have to be done. 

It was pouring outside. Absolutely raining cats and dogs. So I spent what was little left of the morning in my apartment, watching Sex and the City, and turning up some music loud and dancing around. I took a nice long shower, and when lunch time finally came around I headed out to meet up with Dani, Matt, and K.T.

On campus, I'm the only male member of this dance troupe, Phases of Motion. We perform all different styles of dancing from lyrical to ballet to tap to hip-hop to musical theatre. The whole semester we had been preparing for tonight's showcase. At the dress rehearsal last night, I got to watch the entire show and all of the dances that I wasn't a part of. There was one dance (we've done it before, but for some reason that song really struck me), one of the tap dances that just got me so jazzed. It's to the song, "New Shoes" by Paolo Nutini. Apparently this song was a big hit once upon a time a few years ago, I somehow missed this bandwagon and didn't discover it until I saw the girls in Phases perform it during our lat showcase. Watching the chicas tap last night, I just fell in love with the song. I spent all of this morning tap dancing around my apartment.

Anyway, when I was walking to meet up with the gang for lunch, I put that song on repeat and as I walked across campus in the rain, something just sparked within me. I felt like I was glowing, even though the rain was pouring down around me, the sky was dark, it was a bit chilly, even though the whole week had be crappy, I felt to empowered, excited, ready to take on the entire world. 

At I strutted down the street I couldn't help but sing along to the song:

Hey, I put some new shoes on,
And suddenly everything is right,
I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody's smiling,
It's so inviting,
Oh, short on money,
But long on time,
Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine,
And I'm running late,
And I don't need an excuse,
'cause I'm wearing my brand new shoes.

Woke up late one Thursday,
And I'm seeing stars as I'm rubbing my eyes,
And I felt like there were two days missing,
As I focused on the time,
And I made my way to the kitchen,
But I had to stop from the shock of what I found,
A room full of all off my friends dancing round and round,
And I thought hello new shoes,
Bye bye them blues.

We went to Chipotle for lunch. Delicious. And then following Chipotle fun, K.T. and I decided we were going to dye my hair. I dyed my hair pre-Setzuan to look more Asian and also because I needed to new look post-break-up (There's something about changing hair color that helps to you move on. New color, new you? Who knows!). I'm naturally very, very blond. For the show I dyed my hair jet black. For awhile, with the black hair I felt somehow more mature, more put together. I felt sophisticated... but about a week ago I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize myself. I didn't feel like myself anymore. Madonna has a quote that I love concerning hair color:

Being blonde is definitely a different state of mind. I can't really put my finger on it, but the artifice of being blonde has some incredible sort of sexual connotation. Men really respond to it. I love blonde hair but it really does something different to you. I feel more grounded when I have dark hair, and I feel more ethereal when I have light hair. It's unexplainable.

I wanted that ethereal feeling back. I wanted the sexual connotation that came with sexy, sexy blond hair back. The other day a boy gave me his phone number and I didn't even text him or call him or anything. I want my blond hair back, I want my sex drive back, and I want this stupid vow of abstinence from boys to be over. I'm ready to flirt, I'm ready to be sexy, I'm ready to get boy crazy again.

I wanted to put my new shoes (or in my case, my new hair on) and walk outside and see that everything was all right.

As we were purchasing dye, K.T. and I started joking to each other about the boys that we had dated in the past, and what boys we tended to date and be attracted to. We created personal adds of sorts for ourselves. My personal ad went something like this:

If you have a substance abuse problem
and an inability to fully communicate your emotions or commit
If you are incredibly insecure about yourself
If you look awkward, like a smurf, or a complete dork
If you plan on breaking my heart, ignoring me, or not responding to text messages
than I AM THE GUY FOR YOU. I will fall for you, because that's what I do.

Please, if you plan on treating my nicely, taking me out to dinner, treating my like a prince...
I'm not interested. You should keep looking...

This sums up pretty much all of of my previous relationships. Why do I fall for the same guys? Why do I continue to put on the same old tattered shoes, even though the don't give me nearly enough support and make my feet sore? Why do I continue to purchase the same style of shoes that I know will fall apart in less than three months instead of the ones that are durable and will last me a lifetime?

Since I couldn't do anything about boys at the moment, hair was where it was at. Because my hair was so dark to begin with, the bleach blond dye turned it a sort of red color. Although not what I expected... I liked it. It was a different color than I had ever had before. It was something new and fresh. At first I wasn't sure about it... I was weary because it was something I had never tried before... but the more people complimented it the more I became extremely fond of it. Several of my friends mentioned how it really worked with my skin tone and looked incredibly natural... and maybe, just maybe, this new hair was reflective of me. It wasn't the blond of my past, and it wasn't the black of break-up/Setzuan mourning, but instead a reflection of a brand new me, a new person who was ready to return to the world, confidant and secure. I put my new hair on... and suddenly I was smiling.

After my dye job was done, I ran over to get ready for the Phases of Motion showcase. I was so excited for it. After spending the entire semester working on all the dances, it was about time to show them off and we were ready. I performed in three dances and emceed the evening and was INCREDIBLY happy with how everything turned out. For the finale of the showcase, Elisabeth and I choreographed a musical theatre style dance for a medley of songs from the musical, Hairspray. When we performed it, I was floored when, during the dance, people screamed, laughed, clapped, and were just excited about the whole thing. And as we struck the final pose at the end of the song, people in the audience (a pretty decent amount too), actually gave us a standing ovation. I could have exploded. I was so proud of Elisabeth and I putting together this dance, so proud of the girls for learning the dance and working so hard, so proud of the boys we invited to appear in the dance (we needed some men to help perform all the lifts and tricks)... and I realized... it was the first time this entire semester that I actually felt proud of something I had done... And it felt good.

I had missed being proud of my work in the fine arts part of my life. I had put my 'proud of myself' shoes deep in my closet and allowed them to be buried beneath dirty laundry and random crap. And suddenly, they just appeared, I tried them on, and they felt good. Although old, they felt and looked like a pair of brand new, fabulous shoes. I was just bummed out I found them now and not earlier... they would have looked good with a lot of outfits. I wasn't going to let them get buried in my closet and be forgotten again. It feels good to feel good about yourself. It feels wonderful to work so hard and have such an excellent pay off for your work. It feels good to be proud.

Post awesome dance showcase, though, I couldn't help but feel a little bittersweet. I felt so proud of myself, I was loving myself hardcore, but... part of me wished I had someone there after to come up, kiss me, and be so proud of me. I wish I had a boy there to support me, to love me, and to proud the most proud person in that entire theatre. It wasn't a boy in general, though, it was one boy... and I just kept thinking...

I wish you were in the audience, because I know you would have been the first person 
to stand up and cheer at the end of  Hairspray
I wish you were here to run up to the stage afterwards and give me one of those fabled hugs 
where the two people become one for a moment
I wish you were here to see me beaming, and be so proud of me, and see how happy/ecstatic/amazing
 it makes me feel to know that you are proud that I'm proud
I wish you were here so we could go back to my apartment and throw a dance party to celebrate, 
just the two of us
I wish you were here, because if I feel this much empowerment from you from millions of miles away,
just imagine what it would be like to have you here
I wish you were here, because I'm ready to start making memories with you

And then, instead of continuing to mope about distance, I made a powerful realization. Relationship-wise, I was finally ready for some new shoes. I was ready to set the old shoes under my bed (not throw them away, just put them out of sight for awhile, I would never completely give up on a pair of shoes especially if they're still wearable), and try on some spankin' new shoes. These shoes just had to be shipped from overseas and while take about a month and a half to arrive. Until then, I'll just have to stare at the catalog and imagine what these hot new shoes feel like.

After the show, Dani, Matt, and Erin decided to go out to Uncle Bill's for our final late night Uncle Bill's trip in St. Louis for a long while (especially for Dani and Matt, they're studying in Spain in the fall). While eating my pancakes, something came out of my mouth that really shocked me. We were talking about a terrible experience Erin had had at International Thespian Festival (a boy asked for a kiss on the cheek, when Erin politely leaned into cheek kiss, he swiftly moved his head and laid on on her... little 16 year old Erin was in SHOCK and APPALLED) when she was a junior in high school and we started picturing younger versions of ourselves. And that's when I said it, "I like 20 year old me better than any other previous version of me." To which Erin responded, "It's so good to like yourself."

In that moment, I realized I liked myself. I was actually proud of who I was. I felt confidant, secure, funny, sexy, amazing, supported... I felt stronger than I had felt in a long time. 

And suddenly my vow of Abstinence from Boys was no longer necessary. I was ready to get back into the Game instead of hiding away and failing to put a real, strong, intentional effort forward. I had new hair, a new song to dance to, a new thing to be proud of, a group of friends to love me unconditionally, a prospective boy in the midst who is nothing like any previous boy before...

I found a whole bunch of new shoes... 
and  they felt and looked damn good. 

And that's why...

today was fantastic.


  1. Aw, I really wanted to come to the show, but I had another commitment - I'm sorry, dude, I'm sure you were awesome! I actually walked by once while the door was open and you were rehearsing, and I did notice you. It's a shame, I really did want to see it.

    So, your hair's different again? That's kind of interesting; I'll need to check out your pictures for that. You know what, James? You really should be proud of yourself. I don't know if you'll think that means much coming from me since I'm not quite as close to you as your other friends, but I really mean it, man. I honestly believe that you could possibly be one of the most talented people I've experienced meeting this year, if not the most. Sometimes things do happen that can make us forget our reasons to be proud by making us feel really hurt and in pain, but I saw that it never stopped you from being incredible at what you do, and I'm thrilled to see that you have your good feeling back - it'll only make it better, and everyone loves a happy James!

  2. James, you're fabulous.

    I cannot wait for the day that we can catch up face-to-face. Stay confident and be willing to wait for what you want, because -- in the end -- you deserve a boy who doesn't come around everyday. (Keep writing when you find him, too!)

    Your friend,