I started sorting though my dance gear this weekend (Give... Sell... Toss) and I admit I was grousing.
Since 1999, when I took that first feeble step toward a proper shimmy, belly dancing has been my therapy, my art, my safe space. Even when I lived in places without troupes or classes, I found a way to dance. I made many of my own costumes, coveted intricate designs from Egypt, clapped those zills together 'til the neighbors complained. I've danced with friends, strangers who became friends, landed on my ass a few times, and always ended laughing. I've put two-sided tape on parts of my body that I wasn't even sure I had!
I've missed it desperately the last couple years when schedules and then my crumbling spine made it difficult to dance with anything approaching consistency. I missed my dance sisters but stayed away so I wouldn't openly cry.
Then my back had its final say, which was, "No. This is the end of this."
The curious thing about back problems -they are so individual. One person's back is helped by yoga, another's is destroyed. One person's back embraces belly dancing, another's completely rejects it.
One particular motion necessary for belly dance but not for "life" pings a particular nerve that makes my legs stop working. Still, I held on to the hope that with enough physical therapy and hard work and slow practice, I would be back in that hip wrap eventually, tossing my hair during a barrel roll.
The realization dawned on me that I really, truly, will not be able to do this again.
This was a beautiful, stable, empowering part of my past, but it is not a part of my future.