The first snowfall is a kind of magic. In the dark, everything seems to press closer. On the road in front of me, the wind picks up last week’s fallen leaves, stirring them with the white snow and the shadows, mixing autumn into winter into the long, slow sleep of the night. We are sliding into the darkness, into late mornings, clouded days, early evenings, and nights where the stars are shrouded and the snow falls fast. The light from my highbeams flies back in my face as I wind with the road through these high fields, but I want to see the darkness and the pattern of the falling sky, so I leave them on. In the blackness, I am intensely aware of the distance on either side of me, stubbled fields stretching off to trees stretching off to mountains stretching off to empty, singing wind and, somewhere, the valley. This is glorious.
This week, I wake up in the country on someone else’s farm, before the sun spills over the eastern ridge. I do chores in the dark, spreading hay on the frost-brittle grass, feeding barn cats, taking an axe to the ice in the water buckets. I dip the pieces out with my bare fingers, like broken window panes, thick and icy and golden where the first rays of the sun hit their edges. I have hardly had a moment to live in the autumn, this year, and now winter is already marching in and marching in, closer every hour. I wish autumn were not so brief, but I am glad to see the snow. I am eager for fires in the stove and hot cups of tea, for cold toes and warm wool socks, for the smell of pine and the close, drowning silence of a thick snowfall. I am eager for the rest that winter is.
I continue to spend most of my evenings and all of my weekends in the studio, dancing. I fight with myself to find energy, impetus, inspiration. I have laid out a full regimen for myself, these next few months, and I am struggling now to take it all with joy. I am honored and pleased and excited to be a part of each project, but I am tired, have not had a week off since May. After months of trying, I am forced to recognize it is not possible for me to be both myself and my inspiration, and I feel sorely the lack of the thick, heady magic of the past summer. I miss the daily urge towards excellence and growth and higher jumps and longer balances and deeper joy that I found there. I miss the comfort of familiar classes in familiar studios, and though I know that I will grow with each new teacher I learn from, I am resentful of the time it takes me to acclimate to a new space, a new style, a new group of fellow students. I want to be further than I am, but I don’t want to take the steps to get there. I am impatient with myself, with my body and the way it won’t get things right, with my thoughts that won’t let me forget it. I cling to the knowledge that I am doing now just a speck of what I thought was impossible a year ago, and so there must still be a chance that what is impossible now will turn out not to be entirely so, some day far on the other side of the snow.
It is difficult not to think that I am too late. The knowledge that I will never reach where I want to reach or do what I dream of doing is hard to bear with grace. It is easier to say that I am too slow or too old, and to let that weigh me down–the horror of having missed my chance by one wasted year, one foregone opportunity, one skipped class. There are so many what-ifs in performance art. But I am still learning, and still growing, and still gaining, ever so slowly, confidence and artistry. I will learn to modify my dreams.