Monday, September 30, 2013


This morning, before the sun fully rose, Chloe burst into my room to wake me up for our bi-weekly run. She badgered me as she always does encouraging me, not so gently, to move faster, she wanted to go. Because I was a little more responsive today, we got out of the house earlier than usual, allowing us to experience fog laying low to greet the early risers. Fog is a funny thing. Many people fear it. It makes things hard to see. It evokes our fear of uncertainty of what lay ahead. But as we ran, we noticed something beautiful. Webs, everywhere. Each cactus, tree, bush, flower was intricately decorated with at least one perfectly attached spider web. Something usually unseen by the passerby, the fog made these miracles of nature visible.

A few weeks ago I went to the doctor just to have a general check up, just out of curiosity. As I have been extremely healthy my whole life, I assumed I would receive gleaming results as always. When she told me I had an infection in my cervix,I was surprised but felt reassured by the antibiotic she gave me. When I went back last Friday for my follow up check up, my doctor discovered that laying beneath the infection was something worse. Something she showed me pictures of, pointing out all of the problems, something she recommended surgery for. My immune system was down she explained, it was not protecting me as it should.

In mid august my boss was testing Ramon and me on our knowledge of different dance steps. When it was feedback time, she took a deep breath and said, "Tara, I am seeing something in your leading that needs work." She explained to me that when I lead turns and a variety of other steps, I over extend my arms away from my center, inhibiting my power and communication to my partner. In the same week, while practicing martial arts, Ramon continued to tell me that I was doing essentially the same thing. He kept explaining how important it was for me to keep my center in tact, making sure not to reach for my partner. I often analyze my students' physicality as a sign of their personal tendencies. Women with a tight grip are the most controlling. Men with spaghetti arms are self absorbed. People unable to open their chests are protecting themselves. The list goes on. So I thought about what my physicality said about me. Over-reaching. Giving away my power. Extending too far from my core. Do these traits apply to my personality, my relationships, my life? Absolutely. A fact that, last week, was blatantly pointed out to me by the people I love most. But none of their talking had any visceral effect until I got that news on Friday, that news that at the age of 25, my formerly healthy body had developed a pre-cancerous issue. That's when I started to understand.

As I ran today, after one of the most joyful and relaxing weekends I have had in a long time, I reflected on this. On the physical manifestation of one's spiritual limitations. On how some beautiful things are only visible in the eerie presence of fog. How this scary and unexpected event in my life, forced me to rethink my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. How for the first time in a year, I feel like the weight has lifted. I am on the road to recovery, and I am happy to be there. Grateful for my family and my job and my friendship. And even grateful for the fog.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I remember distinctly the first time I scraped my knee. I was running on the path beside lake Como and my toe caught on a bump, catapulting me forward, my right knee the first point of contact on the gravel. I got up clumsily as my parents ran to my aide. Dad picked me up and as I attempted to wriggle out of his arms, ready to start running again, I noticed the hideous cut that now adorned my knee. I started to cry. I remember them telling me "It looks worse than it is." The were right, but I continued crying anyway.

When we are young, we have these experiences, as we come into this world unhindered by negative possibility, open and unafraid. I jumped into the pool with no water wings on and almost drowned. I burnt myself on a hot toaster oven. I rode my bicycle down a flight of stairs. The list is endless. Each time we encounter pain, shock, anxiety, fear; we learn. We attempt the next time with a little more caution, more awareness, conscious of the possible consequences. It is from these occurrences that we grow. With each scraped knee or close call our realities widen. And gradually as we grow older the superficiality of these experiences shift inward. The necessity of remembering a bike helmet becomes the importance of guarding ones spirit against cruelty. The broken skin replaced with broken hearts.

It is in the healing period provided by the anguish, the fear, the sorrow, when our bodies, our hearts, and our spirits have somehow been scraped or bruised, that we are shaped. Creativity and sensitivity and intuition. It is in these transitional periods that we start to ask questions. Why? How? And the answers are provided from within. Often helplessness and hopelessness transform into realizations that the only thing we have control over in this life is our own perceptions, thoughts, and actions. Everything else will swirl unpredictably around us.

I  feel tightness in my chest. Anxiety, maybe. I have never more viscerally felt a broken heart. But each moment is a stitch. Each breath taken instead of relinquishing to tears, each word written in my journal rather than in a text message, each torturous step taken away from him; my pain alleviates. I chose to love this time for once with all my intelligence. Adrienne Rich's words are my bandaid, my water wings, my helmet, my meditation.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I love driving in the morning. I leave my sunglasses off, enjoying my full, unadulterated exposure to the sun's first glimmers onto my side of the earth. I don't mind that I have to squint, that I am not fully aware of every detail that lay ahead, because that warm sense of possibility that only the pre-breakfast sky can offer, reassures me, if only for that moment, that every little thing is gonna be alright.

In the year after I had Tallulah, I arrogantly and ignorantly thought I had it all figured out. I had resolved my issues, thrown the skeletons out of my closet and gone forward powerfully, following my passion and the values that I knew to be true. I was gardening when he came and the ground I stood so solidly on began to shake and disintegrate. David, a single 34 year old man, a meanderer who had, on a whim, decided to venture to the small Pueblo Magico town I live in, wandered into the store in our front hall and struck up a conversation with my grandma.

"What do you do?" she asked him.
"I am a dance teacher at Arthur Murray in San Miguel." He replied.

My grandma, ever my biggest fan, then launched into a long winded explanation of my accolades in ballroom dance.

"Let me go get her."

David, who had assumed that I lived elsewhere, was about to thank my grandma and leave, but instead stood there dumbfounded and nervous to meet the ballroom dance giant my overzealous grandma had described.

"Tara!" she bellowed for me.

I was in the middle of deciding where to plant my carrots and broccoli, root depth, sunlight, space, and I was instantly irritated assuming I was being summoned for yet another menial task.


I thought I had been clear about the fact that I was not to be interrupted as Tallulah was sleeping and I only had a limited amount of time to devote to my planting.

"I think I have a job offer for you." she stated cheerfully with a wide smile on her face that made my eyes roll rudely.

I saw him standing there in the doorway, a handsome, small statured man. I liked his hair. He told me about the studio and that they were looking for a female instructor. I ran back to mom's room and told her excitedly, I could see the apprehension in her eyes.

I started training a month later. My first day Christie said "Just dance with her, she's had an appendage hanging off of her for the last 2 years, she wants to dance." And she was right. Ramon, who I had met once before in passing, took my hand and led me into a Rumba. In the short spurts of time in which Ramon's bashful and intimidated eyes weren't focused on the floor, our gazes would meet. The combination of his strong lead, hydrating my need for dance, and the deep brown of his iris shining beneath a long canopy of curly black lashes, sent a shock through my system, something I had never felt in my 23 year life. It felt good.

It was July 4th when we first kissed. The first day I stayed late. He hugged me intensely and said shyly, that beautiful smile creeping across his face "I wish to always be this happy." He walked me to my car and there, with 10 valet parking attendants as our witnesses, he gently pressed his lips to mine. Shit. Shit. Shit. Was all I could think on my hour long drive home.

"Stay with me." He said, his charming face leaning toward me in a way that would have made my knees buckle had I not been sitting in the driver's seat of my car. "I can't..." I said begrudgingly. But eventually I did. I tried many times to convince myself that what I felt wasn't real. But inevitably,  my core won out and I gave into the fact that I loved him. More than any friend I had ever had. More than any man I had been intimate with. More.

And now, 8 months after that first kiss, I am facing a new reality. All of my previous lessons learned behind me, and a whole new set ahead. I find myself in a situation, hopelessly entangled with a man who makes me feel more but simulataneously isn't enough. My dance partner. My co-worker. My friend. My lover. There are so many torturous things in this life. Don't let a man who doesn't love you be one of them. Cheryl Strayed makes it sound so easy. And in a way it is. I have the ability to set the boundary. I can let go. I can squint, and let the sunlight obstruct my vision. I can be at peace with the uncertainty of what lay ahead. I can allow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The kind of love that you witness in the movies. The tortured affairs, the unparalleled passion, the laughter, sweetness, and heartbreak. It is something I always thought belonged to someone else. Someone who's life was simpler. Someone who was more beautiful or smart or funny or charming. For two years after Tallulah was born I actually beleived that true love did not exist outside of the bond inherent in parent/child relationships.

And then there I was. Dancing again. I rediscovered not only the woman inside of me that was aching to be released but my inate passion for dance that had been laying dormant for 3 years. And I fell in love. Though it is difficult to see where the dancing ends and the love begins. And maybe that's the way it should be. When I watch the movie "Walk the Line" I see 2 people who are so inextricably bonded by their mutual passion for an art that to separate the music from their love is impossible.

In the last 4 months I have been battling my feelings. I question their reality, their logic, their reason, when in my heart I know that love defies all of these brain driven aspects. A friend told me recently that to watch us dance was to see a connection so seemless it was like seeing two people become one. If that isn't real, what is? But it's dark, and it hurts, and it falls apart and comes back together. More often than not I am wishing that the feelings would just go away, simplify the situation.

It was only this morning, after far too many swoops in this amor rollercoaster, that I realized how truly blessed I am to have found this feeling at all. Tremendous torment withstanding, I wouldn't trade any of it. I have said several times to whatever shoulder I was crying on at the moment that I was afraid to let go. That it takes my breath away thinking that I may never feel again the way I do when I am with him. And I still feel this. We are not together. We may never be again. But I feel outrageously grateful that I have felt, truly and sincerely, with every cell in my body and every fiber of my spirit, an all encompassing love.