Celebrate and dance so free

I was in the weight room when I heard the song come on. I hadn’t heard it in a long time.

The power of music.

It can take you back to an exact moment it feels like it’s happening all over again.

This time I was transported back to a season many years ago when we were together. I had visions of you during your Junior year dancing to it. Everyone circled around you, you seamlessly flowing into impressive moves as they all cheered you on. You loved it. I stood to the side, cheering too but feeling uncomfortable, shy almost. I’m not shy. I always felt a little that I was when I went to dances. With you. You loved to move. You were effortless. I was unsure. Of moving my body. How to. I awkwardly swayed feeling like I couldn’t keep up with you.

I tried to think of a time before now when I felt free and effortless. Like you felt free on that dance floor that night in mid October. I had trouble remembering. When was it? It escaped me. Still searching, that thought brought me back. I refocused on the present moment. My accelerated heart rate. The sweat dripping down the side of my face. The weights in my hand. The reps I had done the reps I still had to do. I put them down and grabbed a heavier set. Because I could. I didn’t think I could for a long time and then I remembered the song in the background reminding me of those years we were together and how I wouldn’t even be where I was now. Challenging myself physically and how I wouldn’t then, I didn’t even know how to.

That is such a celebration.

The power of a song.

It can not only take you back to an exact moment, the feeling you had then but it can remind you of how different you are now. And how you don’t want to feel like you did then. I don’t want to feel like I did then. Then you were the strong one, the one who worked out every day and made it a ritual. No matter what you carved out time for you. To move, to meditate. I didn’t. I didn’t have any space for that. I wanted to. It felt far away. You felt far away as you worked out in our second bedroom and I did other things with my time. Now I’m strong, I work out because I want to and making it a ritual for myself. Like you did all those years. The song was coming to an end and just as my time in the weight room was. I had 30 seconds left. I heard the end of the song, I remembered you, and how I felt that night on the dance floor, those mornings while you worked out in the room next to me and I grabbed an even heavier weight. Because I could. Because I didn’t think I would be here. Because I hoped I would.

This time I grabbed it for you.

“Shut it down” my coach said. It was time to switch. I moved to the treadmill.

It was my last station. The end of my work out was approaching. The instructor told us that we didn’t come this far to come this far. She was right.This wasn’t the end.I was out of breath but I was happy. Smiling. Tired. But I felt strong. I was just getting started. And as if this soundtrack on this day was preselected for me when I wasn’t even expecting it, the next song came on. I hadn’t heard it in a long time. Years actually. But as soon as I heard it took me back and gave me the answer to the question I asked myself earlier. When was a time I felt free? Effortless? I finally remembered.

It was right before my Junior year. It was the middle of July and I was in a bar in Oxford England and it was late and a group of us danced under the red flashing lights to the same song that was playing now as I walked on my treadmill with similar orange lights above me. “One more time we’re gonna celebrate. Celebrate and dance so free.” And I did. I felt it. Effortless. I twirled. Freely. I laughed. In my body, just as I was. Light on my feet, not self conscious, not disconnected. Sweating and smiling. Packed between people. The dance floor vibrating in synch with our feet and the beat of the song. What was different this time? You weren’t there. That made a difference I think. We all cheered each other on. I loved it. The attention wasn’t on you. I didn’t feel like I was in the shadows, twirling to myself. I was present. I was happy. I felt joy. Just as I was. It was one of the best nights. That feeling that night is more than words. It is that song. And the feeling I felt that day came back as soon as I heard that song on the speakers that day in the gym. Timed just right -exactly after I had heard that other song that brought up a totally different memory and feeling than this one.

The power of a song.

It can take you back to an exact moment and the feeling you felt.

Sweating and smiling I felt recognized that feeling again. I had been feeling it a lot lately. Free. Just as I was. Never wanting to feel like that girl on that dance floor in October of your Junior year, instead like that girl in July of mine.

And as the song started to come to an end so did my class. My coach called out a countdown to a 30 second all out. Normally I power walked, but this time I thought about the song.The girl in the memory. My feet moved to the beat in the chorus just like that night in the dance club. I increased my speed. Faster. I jogged. I made my speed a little faster. Because I could. Because I didn’t think I would. Because I hoped I would. Someday. And I was.

That is such a celebration.

The song was still in the background, “Music’s got me feeling so free,” reminding me of how I felt in both those moments and memories, how far I had come from both those girls on those dance floors. How neither would know how it would all end up but how I hoped I would be where I was now, feeling how I felt, just as I was, in times where I had felt both far from here and close to here . Halfway there, 30 seconds left. I went even a little faster. Becuase I could. Becuase I didn’t think I would. Becuase I hoped I would. Class was over. So was the song. I wanted both to keep going. The belt below my feet slowed down. The treadmill stopped.

This time I did it for you. 

I looked into the mirror and I smiled at her, the girl I had done it for all along. She smiled back at me. Tears and sweat filled my eyes. 

I wiped my face. Blinked. And looked up. She was still there smiling back. I kept smiling too.

Heart being fast. 

I did it for her. I did it for me. 

And I feel free. 

Sarah Polite