Wednesday, November 4, 2015

straighter legs and sustained postures of discomfort

My body doesn't do that. This is what I think when the instructor calls out my name after she says, "Legs straight!" One of mine is on the ground, the other I lift behind me, over and over. I am bent over, back parallel to the floor, arms holding the ballet bar.

My body feels like a bunch of leftover pieces slapped together. My knees ache, my hips are tight, my shoulders broad and arms gangly. My big eyes bulge out of my round face. I hide my long forehead with bangs. My legs, which are slightly different lengths, are always tight, so they never really straighten.

When I sit on the floor at the end of barre class and try to spread my legs to stretch, mine make a tight V while others stretch theirs into nearly a straight line. Others bend over and hug the floor. I hunch over to touch my toes. My hip sockets won't let my legs turn out any wider. I think someone used the wrong kind of glue when they put me together. My joints are stuck.

I wonder if this is something I can change. Can I make my hips more flexible? I google this with my niece and we practice poses named after animals: pigeon, frog, butterfly. All I can think is, I'm not an animal, and this doesn't feel good.

When the instructor comes around to help me with my legs, she pulls the lifted one so that my muscle contracts and my leg lengthens. Suddenly, it is even straighter. I think about how my body might slowly change if I can hold my leg this straight every time. I think about strength, I think about flexibility and bending and molding. I think about sustained postures of discomfort and how quickly I try to escape them. I think about being content with my body, fearfully and wonderfully made, yada yada yada. I think about the process of being made, how it is past present and future, it is how straight I hold my leg, the discomfort I can bear. How being made is still happening.

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