Let the Light Blaze In


This weekend I went to a two day dance retreat in Virginia Beach. If you’ve ever imagined a primal ceremonial dance where everyone’s doing their own thing— a few people whirling and twirling, some running around in circle, some rolling on the floor or writhing against a wall— this is it. I don’t think I could love it more. It’s helping me crack through a rigid self-consciousness as old as a snake’s first skin.

I’d left Richmond early to visit the Edgar Cayce Institute before checking into my hotel. I’d never been to this Psychic Haven before but it felt like a smattering of my mother’s friends were stationed on each floor next to huge crystals, elaborate stained glass panels and throughout the library of psychic readings. It felt like home I’d simply never visited before and I spent a lot of time in the gift shop.

Checking into my ocean resort I was told all of the barricades and police cars I’d passed on my way in were in preparation for the Christmas parade and that I’d better move my car immediately or get blocked in. I’m terrible at handling life’s most basics requirements and felt like a competitor on America Ninja Warrior getting my car properly parked, maneuvering the crowd and checking in. But my hotel room boasted a perfect view of the ocean and a whole caravan of horses trotting along the shore like a beautiful hallucination. Twenty seconds later and they were gone. That night Atlantic Avenue was lit up with lights and decorations and a parade of cars, balloons, dancers, and happy bedazzled children. I felt like the whole night was made for me.

After my amazing, healing first night of dance, exhausted, and starving I went through a McDonald’s drive-in. Everyone else in the class was probably having coconut water or a kombucha or half of a fig or something but I wanted a cheeseburger. This would be my secret shame and the way to reward myself for traveling across the state to try something so brave and new.

After waiting in the drive-through for 27 years, a server came out to tell us the drive-through was temporarily shut down. Was this a sign to go back to my hotel and feel my feelings rather than stuffing french fries on top of them? Nawwwww, I thought sagely to myself. I had to walk past an enormous, fresh pile of throw up to get to the door. Inside people were arguing, a man was complaining loudly about the throw up, another man was hitting on a young girl who was telling him about her classes at school and the cashiers were rambling around like high community college co-eds. One of the servers was wearing a sheer black V-neck camisole that exposed the underside of her boob. Did any of this stop me? No way. I ate my cheeseburger and fries in bed like a queen.

The next morning I woke up to the view of a 200 foot drawing of an erect penis and balls on the beach below my window. Children and grandparents were dancing around the tip, the drawing inscrutable from the sand. I laughed with real pleasure. That morning I danced and sweat until I was exhausted floppy sack of new skin. I prayed and embodied and felt my truth. We were divided into two groups – half of us in a circle with our eyes closed while the other half intuitively placed hands on the parts of our bodies they were called to. Someone traced their fingers along my cheek and brow with the tenderest feather of a touch, someone else’s large warm hands cradled the small of my back. I felt so held, so supported.

During the break I had a solo picnic lunch on the very top of Mount Trashmore which I honestly believe is Virginia’s version of Sedona. A friend said maybe Mount Trashmore absorbs all of the trash from our bodies and sucks it in.

That night when I came home, we lit Hannukah’s first candle and we’ve lit the menorah every night since even if it’s over frozen pizza, leftovers, or Chinese. I can’t muster the energy to make the latkes but I’m so damn happy to light the candles and sing. This year I plan to let go of the hooplah and let the light blaze in.

Valley HaggardComment