Basically in those days I sought calm between my ears: a clear conscience born of both doing my best to be good and being grateful for what I had; no major money worries; life ordered and under control. Occasionally I’d allow my soul to speak on the page – and judging by the poems that it penned, it was very angry and rather sad. Funnily enough I called the style of my poetry ‘my voice’, but I didn’t listen to it at all – just carried on writing anger from the inside, kept life on the outside in the pretty English countryside as untroubled as possible, and believed that on the days when my mind was without too much anxiety, I was happy.
Thank God I had it all wrong.
These days peace of mind can come along for the ride if it wants, but I’m settling for nothing less than pure, unadulterated joy! And last Saturday, in a community centre in the Shropshire town where I was born, people who have known me since I first walked on this earth, saw with their own eyes that I have at last claimed it for myself. Indeed I was brimming over with it… shining eyes occasionally welling up; a grin that did not care about showing every one of my crooked teeth; an open heart that wanted to chat to strangers and friends alike all night long.
The circumstances? Pretty bloody brilliant as it happens…
On Saturday morning, in the kitchen of my childhood home, the love of my life, mi amor C. asked my parents (in the most adorable Spanglish you can possibly imagine) for my hand… and my Mum hugged him tight and said, Yes! A thousand times, Yes!
On Saturday night, in the auspicious glow of his own joyous Golden Wedding celebrations, my Dad announced to the assembled guests that to his delight, Me and C. would be tying the knot as soon as Argentine bureaucracy allows. Later we danced for all 111 friends and family present – Café Dominguez (D’Agostino, tango) and Pobre Flor (De Angelis, vals): it felt like I was floating on a cloud with an angel. Afterwards people sought us out to congratulate us, tell us how we’d conjured magic and tears as we’d danced, shake C.’s hand, welcome him into the family that I love beyond words.
So joyful circumstances? Oh God yes!
And at last, at the grand old age of forty six I finally know I’m ready for them.
How do I know it? Because for the past three years I’ve left the quest for finding peace of mind in my wake and have instead been following my heart in pursuit of joy. My journey so far has led me from Hampshire, England to Mongolia to Argentine Tango to Buenos Aires to Carlos to this moment back in Shropshire. As I’ve travelled I’ve learned that joy isn’t about circumstances or places or other people, though of course they can be beautiful bonuses along the way, it’s about being true to myself and saying yes to the longings of my soul… if I do that, then of course I’ll feel joy: my soul will be connected with what it needs to thrive. Plus, in reply to my own efforts, the universe will respond by putting in my path the stuff that can help me in my quest, even when it’s stuff that I might never have imagined (or thought I wanted) in my wildest dreams for myself.
When I look back to the days before I’d heard of Argentine Tango, I’d have considered it utterly ridiculous even to fantasise that in 2009 I might be living in Argentina, marrying a darling of an Argentine, receiving warm and rapturous applause for my dancing from an English audience, standing on the verge of publishing a book for tango tourists… ridiculous, impossible, dreamland type stuff. But it wasn’t was it?
A few sweet and delighted people have lovingly used the words fairytale ending (referring to my bit of a climb from less joyful places) to describe my forthcoming marriage to C., but of course both they and we know it’s really just the beginning of a whole new Sallycat’s Adventure isn’t it? Or at least it’s simply a moment on the way that marks the start of the next chapter in the tale you’ve been reading on this blog since my very first entry in January 2007. I reckon it’s a damn happy moment though, whichever way you look at it.
So by way of recording this latest step on my path of the heart, here are a couple of photos of me celebrating the story so far, dancing with C. for my family and friends last Saturday night.
I don’t know if you can see it. Carlos felt it. I felt it. The audience saw it. Somewhere in there, at the very heart of what it’s possible to capture on camera, is love.
Tango will change your life, my teacher said to me at my first tango lesson. It sure as hell has hasn’t it? And to every single change it has brought me, I am shouting loud and clear across the world to you all today, Yes, yes, yes!
And guys, I will be absolutely over the moon if you join in.
Photo credits for the black and white close ups go to a lovely lady called Anne, who managed both to capture our expressions in the exact moment that my dad told the world our news on Saturday night, and to take the first ever decent pic of me dancing tango with C. where I am not wearing a coat. Thank you Anne.
(I know some of you asked for a video, and I’m working on it. Alas my little sis didn’t make it to the camera in time to get a whole dance… but if I can salvage something from somewhere, I will.)