Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fat Girl On A Bar: Trapeze Changed My Life

Last Thursday marked the end of summer session at Canopy. We worked hard on conditioning moves something that we'd been doing all summer with an instructor who worked with us a long time ago. At some point, she said "You all are so much stronger than when I worked with you last time." We all flushed with pride. And it's true. We are not the same eight women who started trapeze back in January. We've not just stronger. We're more skilled. We're more confident. And we're a lot closer. I didn't think that taking trapeze was going to include getting close with a bunch of awesome women. I also didn't think it was going to have such a dramatic effect on my life.

But here I am seven months later, a different person.

About three weeks ago, I meet my first summer goal which was simply to do a hip pullover. It was very anticlimactic. No one saw me. It came after a night spent in frustration and tears. We learned a new routine and I felt incredibly weak after not being able to complete it. The summer session gave me a taste of success as did the tail end of the spring session. I mastered surrender and the pinnacle in my mind, catcher's climb. For the first time in forever I felt strong. I started running again and could do four mile runs. Without stopping. And then this class came. Partly it was just that kind of day when you feel raw and turned inside out. Partly it was because not being able to do the thing meant that I wasn't as strong as I thought. I stood there in tears at one point just holding those ropes and I thought "Fuck it might as well try." I swung my legs up and they wrapped around the rope. No one saw me. No fanfare. It reminded me of that time I got to my "goal" weight.

Next class came and as we started to do the routine again, I did the pull over without even thinking about it. I'd already done it a few times in open studio. And the room erupted in applause. Tears stung my eyes again but this time because everyone witness that moment. Those women knew how hard I worked to get this point. "Nope," I thought, "This wasn't like my goal weight at all. This was a real victory."

As we stretched out, we talked about how we felt about this session. I told everyone "Trapeze totally saved my life." And I flushed a bit at how dramatic that sounds. But it did in so many ways. Not just taking trapeze but before that when I got to hang out while the girls did classes. Just being in Canopy made me feel better. The instructors welcomed me along with my children. Some days when shit just felt bad, going into the studio for a kids' class soothed me. I didn't get why it worked. Now I kind of understand. Now that I am working the magic too.

Canopy feels like it's filled with magic. It's all the wonder of my childhood with its bright fabrics hanging in the back and the big rusted red moon on the wall. The light pouring in from the windows by the ceiling halos the room like a spotlight. The bars down with the kids learning their tricks is like all my dreams of being in the circus. I didn't have to run away. I just got to be there. Excuse me for my mystical moment but I wonder sometimes if all the joy and wonder Canopy produces somehow soaks the place.

When I started classes, I got to add to that energy. I connected with Canopy in a different way the moment my hands touched the robes, my feet the bar. Suddenly I was in the circus. It felt pretty damn special.

My depression has shifted in many ways since I started trapeze as has my relationship with my body. I feel strong and beautiful. I feel like my body is light enough to fly but strong enough to lift itself into positions I didn't imagine possible in January. I knew trapeze shifted Camille's life in important ways but I had no idea it would do the same fore for me. My depression is never gone but it's managed and now just for the meds. Trapeze satisfies that restless, listless feeling depression brings me. I can't imagine a life without trapeze in it. Even with the frustration and the failure I wouldn't ever want to not keep at it.

Last week, I finally managed with a lot of help to get up on the circus bar. Circus bar is different than the dance bar with it's steel bar and two points instead of a single point. It's also higher. I loved it. Loved being that high. I sat up there and looked down at the studio. The air was my element. Joy. Total joy. I wanted to laugh and dance and weep. Being up there I saw a future filled with all kinds of new things to learn not just on the dance bar but on the circus bar, the slings, the invented equipment. A whole world of possibilities. Years of work ahead. Good work that makes the body grow stronger. As I sat up there, I realized I had no fear. The only thing I feared in trapeze I realized was failure. And now sitting on my couch and not on the bar, I know that even failure isn't something to be feared. Fail once. Fail again. Fail better.