I Came Here To Dance.

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Today’s prompt: School trips. We all go on them. What trip do you remember the most? Where did you go & who was with you? How did you get there? Write a memoir post about a memorable school trip. Word limit is 600.

 

In May 1994 I finished my final year of high school, which culminated in a week-long annual “Senior Cruise” to St. Kitts, Granada, Tobago, St. Lucia, and St. Thomas. There were about 45 of us teenagers along with the principal, headmaster, their wives and a few other well-seasoned chaperones.

For me, the Senior Cruise was seven days of shedding my insecurities. Seven days where I left a small, scared girl behind; I didn’t pack her in my suitcase along with my purple bikini. Seven days where I and my classmates were allowed to consume alcohol on the cruise ship in the evenings (yes, a nightly drink limit was strictly enforced!). Lots of screwdrivers. The taste of them still haunts me.

The first night I sucked down my limit of cocktails in record time and made my way to the dance floor. I felt unusually uninhibited and let the music move through my body. Don’t assume that just because I was a New Orleans girl I was a total lush; in fact, I was pretty much a goody two shoes and also a lightweight. This, combined with the heaving and sighing of the ship on choppy waters resulted in my making a total mess of myself. But I didn’t care if I looked foolish. I was letting go, albeit temporarily.

Letting go of being bullied over the years and called “witch nose.”

Letting go of having a queer dad.

Letting go of the fear of college looming ahead, the fear of failure.

Letting go of the mean girls.

Letting go of never having been a cheerleader or Miss Popularity, of never having been on the Homecoming Court or noticed by any of the boys in our class.

Letting go of not liking Erin, of constantly berating myself and comparing myself to others and coming up short.

Letting go of all the shit that had been dragging me down for years.

And so I danced.

Until the high school principal, Mr. David, approached me. He tapped me on the shoulder and my eyes flew fully open from their previous half-mast position. Uh oh. I’d barely ever spoken to the man. What did I do?

“Are you alright?” he leaned quietly, fingering his moustache as he always did.

“Oh yes, I am!” I bobbed my head up and down, as a deep purple blush crawled up my neck to my face.

“Are you sure? Just wanted to check on you,” he said, looking concerned, but also perhaps slightly surprised as he backed away.

“I promise I’m okay,” I insisted in a confident voice. And then skittered to a booth where some of my friends were sitting. I clenched back tears though I’d done nothing wrong; I was just having fun, something most of those people had never really seen me do before. I was Miss Nerdy Nerderson, Miss Latin Club, Miss French Club, and last but certainly not least, Miss I-Make-Straight-A’s-in-Writing-So-Someone-Accused-Me-of-Sleeping-With-the-Teacher.

I froze for a minute, gathering my thoughts. What the fuck was I doing? I specifically hadn’t packed this shy, intimidated girl in my suitcase, so how the hell did she get here?

It was my fault. I must’ve let her sneak in somehow.

Everyone else at the table was consumed in chatter, but I’d disappeared inside myself. Again. Yet this time it was different, because I simultaneously saw myself from the outside. And I didn’t like what I saw.

I came here to dance, I thought.

And with that, I shoved the shy girl overboard and sashayed back out to the dance floor.

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  • http://twitter.com/galitbreen Galit Breen

    Erin! I have chills. Lots of them.

    The coming of age, the seeing yourself from the inside out, the sashay, the overboard.

    Wow.

    You? Kick some serious butt, my friend. That is all.

    XO

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Galit. This means a lot, especially coming from you.
      xoxoxo Happy Holiday weekend!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Imig/500906522 Ann Imig

    DANCE ON. Love it.

    • Anonymous

      Ann,

      Thanks, sweets! How was your Sanka this morning? :-)
      You make me smile. Thanks for reading & stopping by my blog!

  • http://www.theumbels.com Evonne

    I love that you left the shy Erin at home.  It can be fun to sometimes let it all out and just dance.

    I can relate because I took a trip once and did the same.  Except my screwdrivers led to the one and only time I did karaoke.

    • Anonymous

      Evonne,

      I, too, have fallen prey to karaoke. It wasn’t pretty. It’s only happened 2-3 times, but the most recent one didn’t count b/c it was a group of us on stage, not me by myself!! Have a great holiday weekend!

  • http://twitter.com/MidwestMomments Jennifer Barr

    Erin, this was amazing. Chills. I’m so proud of you for stepping out of your shell in such a dramatic way before you left those kids behind. I was not so brave. It took moving far away for me to have the guts to do that.

    • Anonymous

      Jennifer,

      Don’t be fooled—that shy girl? Still makes appearances sometimes. I do the best I can to shut her out, but I don’t know that she’ll ever permanently leave me….?

  • http://twitter.com/dutchbeingme Julie

    I loved this. There are days that I still have the shy girl hanging around me (when I don’t want anything to do with her) and then other days when she goes hiding (and I need her there!) Way to show your confidence to everyone… despite the fact that they didn’t “recognize” you.

    • Anonymous

      Julie,

      Wish I could say the shy girl is gone forever, but alas—she shows up occasionally at the most inopportune times. Le sigh.

  • http://any-given-moment.blogspot.com/ T.J.

    yay young you!!!  Brilliant writing :)

    • Anonymous

      Awww, TJ! Thank you, sweetie! I’m so glad you stopped by for a visit. Hope you are doing well and that you have a great holiday weekend! xoxo

  • http://kimberwidmer.wordpress.com/ purejoy

    dude. you are my hero. 
    how could you have been you in high school when you were most certainly me?
    i may have to just have to let this soak in a bit and be a bit of blog fodder. women. why is it we’re always so wounded?
    thankful for your gifts and how you share it so extravagantly.

    • Anonymous

      Purejoy,

      Apparently we were twins separated at birth, then?! I would like to think that men are wounded in their own ways, but perhaps they just hide it better? I dunno. xoxo

  • Jbswrker

    your memories of the past break my heart, but the woman you have become makes me so very proud….

    • Anonymous

      thanks, mom! i love you! xoxo

  • http://www.chickennoodlegravy.com Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy

    This was AMAZING, Erin! I found myself cheering as you “let go”! I can so relate to the feelings you had… I never let myself let go in high school thought, not at any point. And I regret that now, because I never got to be the real me and no one ever got the chance to know the real me. 

    Brilliant writing, brilliant lady!! 

    • Anonymous

      Katie,

      This was a rare occasion for sure—I was very closed up in high school due to soooo many different things (some referenced in the post, some not). I have definitely gotten better, but the shy girl still insists on showing up when I lease expect it. Grrrrr!

      Thank you so much for your sweet comments!

  • http://mamatrack.com/ Mama Track

    Yay! I’m so glad you went back on the dance floor. Good for you. High school is such a horrible, awful, judgmental time.

    I love how well you made me feel your shame. And then your triumph.

    • Anonymous

      MamaTrack,

      Thank you! And I completely agree about high school. That’s one place I would NEVER, EVER want to go back to. Ugh! Hope you have a lovely holiday weekend! ;-)

  • Terri Sonoda

    You are no wall flower, Ms. Erin.  I can’t imagine your Not dancing.  So proud to hear you went back out on to the floor.

    • Anonymous

      Terri,

      Actually, I am not a dancer. I am mostly too self conscious and worry I look stupid. Although I did dance with my daughters at a bat mitzvah last weekend, which was fun (and I clearly wasn’t drinking then b/c hello, I’m pregnant!). When I drink, I lose some of my inhibitions….which is why it was so easy to do it on this cruise…

  • AwaywegoNancy

    Okay, I was worried there for a moment that your principal was going to be a creeper. Still a toad, but thankfully not as bad as I feared.

    You kept us there with you. Dance on, my friend.

    And also? My high school had fake blackjack at a convention center. I demand a new high school, and memories to go with it.

    • Anonymous

      Nancy,

      HAAHAHHAAHA! No, he was a nice guy, I was just so easily intimidated. I honestly think I just floored him w/ my behavior (totally unexpected out of someone like me).

      I wouldn’t want new memories of high school b/c that would mean I’d have to go back there….aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  • Anonymous

    Dancing Is the best freedom there is. Rock on with your bad self.

    • Anonymous

      KLZ,

      Dude, I am not a dancer like you. I cannot dance for shit. But when I drink a little bit, I tend to not worry so much about what I look like while I am dancing….

      How are you & baby doing?

  • http://viewsfromnature.com Carrie

    This is awesome. I felt you on the dance floor, I felt Miss Insecurity creep back in. I’ve been there. I never got a chance to “just dance” though. Not for a few years anyway :)

    • Anonymous

      Carrie,

      I don’t always “just dance,” in fact, I rarely do. This was a rare treat/glimpse. I pretty much refuse to go out on the dance floor unless I’ve had a few drinks. Otherwise I feel too stupid!

      • http://viewsfromnature.com Carrie

        LOL, I ALWAYS need a few drinks to go out on the dance floor…actually more than a few ;)

  • http://withjustabitofmagic.com Jackie

    I used to love to go out dancing… the freedom of it was wonderful. I’m glad that you were able to throw the insecure girl overboard and have fun.

    • Anonymous

      Jackie,

      Thank you! Dancing is a very freeing experience. I should try to do it more often, but I’m usually too self conscious.

  • Anonymous

    Part of me has difficulty seeing the shy girl in you and a larger part of me can see it plainly. Oddly I was inwardly shy and yet was so larger then life in reality. Always making people laugh, always the one with the answers.
    We didn’t have a senior trip.. yeah my school sucked.

    • Anonymous

      Angel,

      Oh girl! It is much easier to not be shy when one is behind a computer screen, dontcha know? I am very shy when meeting people for the first time and have difficulty making conversation. ugh!

  • http://profiles.google.com/twonormalmoms Ally Wilson

    Keep on dancing, my friend! I can so relate to those insecurities – I’m glad you took a chance to let yours go for a while!

    • Anonymous

      Ally,

      Thanks! I wish I could let them go like that more often. I wish the shy girl had stayed overboard, but I think someone threw her a life jacket?!?!

  • http://misadventuresofmrsb.com Mrs. Jen B

    Love this.  Your imagery is beautiful – not packing the shy girl, throwing her overboard.  And I so admire you for just getting out there and dancing – I’ve never been able to just let loose like that and wish I could! Good for you!!!!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Jen B!

      I don’t typically let loose like that—-which is why this moment popped into my head when I saw the prompt. I  rarely dance unless I’ve had a drink—b/c I’m so ridiculously self conscious!

  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com/ Elaine

    You know, this would be a WONDERFUL post to highlight for people who are new to your blog.  I was just thinking that as you were linking to so many of your great posts.  

    I’m SO happy that this post ended the way it did and that you got back out there and danced!!  And isn’t “sashayed” just a wonderful word? 

    • Anonymous

      Elaine,

      Awwww, thanks honey! You are the sweetest! And yes, I was desperately trying to find a way to fit in the sashay part. LOL!

  • Cheryl

    I ached for you, Erin. I really, really did.
    Except for the fact you went on a class cruise. I can’t even imagine. 

    • Anonymous

      Cheryl,

      The cruise was pretty fun, I have to say. And when I looked back at my scrapbook? It was amazingly cheap. Of course, it was a long time ago! My high school still does this cruise every year w/ the seniors. THere’s also an 8th grade trip to DC, Williamsburg, and NYC, but I didn’t have any super fun stories to tell about that one….

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the title and the way it ties up at the end – your last line is a perfect bow on this gift of a post.

    I had no idea you once had these insecurities and shyness in you. 

    That girl went overboard indeed.

    And I love the one who came to dance.

    Oh yes.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you sweet Julie! My titles usually suck, and this time? I kinda liked mine a lot and thought it was good! I’m sure it’ll never happen again now. xoxoxo have a great holiday weekend!

  • http://www.bellebeanchicagodog.com/ Liz

    Way to shake it, sista! LOVE this post! So beautiful. So empowering. You are one awesome chick, Erin!

    • Anonymous

      Oh Liz—don’t give me too much credit! I don’t often feel as empowered as I did when this actually happened. The shy girl went overboard, but someone threw her a life jacket….so that wasn’t the end of her. ;-(

  • Kpiccini

    And DANCE you have ever since. I think we all need that moment when we know that enough is enough, we’re ready to shake it!!!! So glad you danced!!

  • http://www.mommyshorts.com/h Ilana

    Good for you. I was a mess of insecurities growing up. Every phase of my life sheds a few more. Blogging being the topper. And you know what has been the best thing to make me dance like I don’t care? Having a kid. Fun and silliness rule.

  • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

    I am so so happy that you shoved that other Erin overboard and DANCED!!

    That is powerful.

    I love this! 

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