I hope you dance
If I were a timekeeper, I would measure my life in dance. I'm not a dancer in the traditional sense; my days of jazz shoes and tutus only lasted through my elementary school years, but it seems that even as an infant I was ready to dance. I was born with a shortened Achilles tendon, and as a result, I spent the first five years of my life walking around on my tiptoes like I had stolen a pair of teeny tiny pointe shoes. My dad thought this was concerning, and signed me up for physical therapy. My mom thought it was prophetic, and enrolled me in a ballet class.
A few years of physical therapy and pirouettes later, my tiptoe tendencies were eradicated, but my desire to dance had only grown stronger. It made me feel alive, and I quickly discovered that I most fully experience my humanity with my feet moving on the floor and my heart beat drowning out the music. I believe in the power of dance. Each of our lives has a soundtrack: a modge podge collection of melodies, somber and sweet. Some songs will never fail to leave you smiling, while others will make you cry no matter how often you hear them. We weren't created to just sit and listen when the music of our life begins to play, we were all intentionally made to dance.
This ideology has carried me through seasons of incredible joy, and unwavering sadness. I believe we were all designed for full, belly laugh, two-step, take off your shoes and don't stop until your sore kinda dancing. Our lives are best lived when victory dancing, pulled-in-real tight slow dancing, and shaking off the stress after a long day. I am the best version of myself when I'm jamming in the car, staying up all night with my friends dancing to High School Musical Three, or swing dancing with my older brother at any and every family gathering. It's hard to paint a picture of who I am, but one thing that stands true is that I'll be dancing.
It seems like this tendency to groove is tucked somewhere in my family's DNA along with the freckles and widow's peaks that genetically determine who we are. I grew up in a house filled with four kids, hardwood floors, and lots of activity. At some point - between the sleepovers, nerf wars and countless games of hide-and-go-seek - our house became a haven for many of our friends. Our kitchen was the unofficial gathering spot of my brother's pre-game hockey rituals, Saturday morning pancake breakfasts, and group study sessions during finals. Although you never knew who you'd run into in my kitchen, it was known by our friends as the consistent home of two things: Oberweis chocolate milk, and dance parties. Some of my earliest memories include tangoing around the kitchen on my nanny's feet as she made dramatically sharp turns, sending me and my little sister into a fit of laughter with each step. As we grew older, my siblings and I got closer, and dance parties became an almost daily ritual. No matter where you were in the house if you heard the "Booty Werk" Pandora station blasting from the speakers in the kitchen, you knew it was your cue to jump in and bust a move. Washing the dishes was never truly complete without jamming to Taylor Swift, and there was no better way to finish our chores than twirling around the kitchen, using the broom as a microphone. Growing up wouldn't have been half as fun without my built-in dance partners, and I am thankful for the unspoken value we unanimously place in a quality jam session. I have learned some of my best moves from my family, but more importantly, they have taught me how to celebrate life especially when dancing seems like the hardest thing to do.
One of the most defining moments of my life was spent dancing in the cafeteria of my high school. It was a week after my dad had passed away, and we had just finished hosting his funeral reception in our school's historic dining hall: home to brown paper bag lunches Monday through Friday, and a myriad of wedding receptions on the weekends. We had spent the day reminiscing through tears of sadness and laughter, and at this point in the afternoon, the once-filled hall was occupied by our dear family and friends who had known my dad best. The reception was drawing to a close, but no Flynn family gathering is ever complete without a dance party and my dad wouldn't have wanted it any other way. So, in honor of Kevin Flynn, we blasted the very explicit ballads of Kanye West and Jay Z from the very Catholic speakers of my high school and danced our asses off. We climbed up on the pillars and boogied our little hearts out until we collapsed into a pile of exhaustion; laughing and trying to catch our breath. It was in that moment that I realized for the first time since hearing the news, that we were going to be ok. We were afraid, uncertain and devastated, but we danced and that was the bravest thing we could do. In that moment I learned that even when I find myself paralyzed on a road marked by tragedy, my feet will always remember how to dance and that will be enough to carry me through.
If my twenty years of life have taught me anything, it's to dance. Every floor is a dance floor if your confident enough to bust a move, so just go for it. Dance like no one is watching, and give people a reason to join in the party. If you're in need of a partner, come find me on the dance floor.