Each December, my family goes to the Portland Revels, a folksy musical celebrating the winter solstice. Actors wear colorful medieval costumes, and the audience is taught several of the songs and encouraged to sing along. This year was my first Revels in several years, one of the many family traditions that had drawn me back to Portland. We all sat near the stage–Mom, Lanny, Jeannie, her girlfriend Anne, several family friends, and Ron and me. I took the aisle seat. I knew exactly where the bathrooms were: down the hallway to the right, around the corner. But I had been feeling better in the weeks since my post-Thanksgiving flare-up–the Proctofoam and Apriso, sauerkraut, and my three meals a day of rice-tofu-lentils-kale, were all working. This evening my health felt better than it had in months, maybe even all year.
As the lights dimmed and the audience grew quiet, I felt enveloped in a warm, happy glow. Here I was, back in Portland. I had a house, a loving husband who had been willing to endure a move across the country for me, a good family who did folksy things together like going to the Revels, and, just this past week, an actual semblance of health. It felt as though I had fought tooth and nail at some point for every one of these core elements of my life. Things were still in flux–health, house, career, kids–but life was beginning to stabilize.
The curtain opened and the audience emerged in their long dresses and scarves and tunics. They greeted each other with booming voices and broad smiles, and soon launched into a song. I sank into my seat with a hand on my belly and let contentment wash over me.
Just before intermission, cast members always descend from the stage and lead the audience in singing and dancing to “Lord of the Dance.” People–kids, their parents, and the bravest, least self-conscious adults–skip slowly together down the aisles holding hands, forming a ragged line that winds into the hallway then back into the auditorium. As the line of dancers approached our row, a thought came: I am not always able to dance. I should dance tonight, while I can.
Ron and my family grinned up at me as I stood. I beckoned them, but they all demurred. I turned and broke my way into the line of dancers.