Confession: I never learned how to play double-dutch.
Well I did, but I was often called “double-handed” (a reference to my inability to catch the rhythmic turning of the two ropes) and when I made awkward knock kneed attempts to jump in they were always dismal failures that ended with me bound up like a newly captured slave (yes it was that bad). I was laughed at and almost always passed over for a turn when it was declared that there would be a game.
My transition into a life in New York has felt just as awkward and frustrating as my double-dutch exploits. Today I have been away from Charlotte, NC and everything else that is familiar to me for one month and three days. I often feel “double-handed” trying to catch the rhythm of this new life. At times nothing feels “safe”, not even a trip to the bodega or Stewarts (my upstate balm in Gilead). Every now and then though … I catch a rhythm.
The click-clack of the subway harkens the sound of ropes slapping in perfect time against the concrete. The rhythm is steady and sure giving me the courage to jump in. Into Brooklyn diners with waiters named Carlos who flirtatiously offer rice pudding as an after thought to the gut busting meal I just ate. Into the view of a gentrified Harlem from the Starbucks on 118th street where I find myself now. I smile at the kaleidoscope of skin tones passing the window to my left. I giggle a little as the men to my right discuss a friend who’s a “trust fund baby” that needs to get into filmmaking. I consider giving them my information should they need a screenwriter, but I think better of it. Missed opportunity? Who knows, time will tell. Guffawing maniacs cackle out the rhythm. Beautiful men bop to it. Breathtaking women with flip-flops and sandals that flap out the rhythm. I’m feeling it. Until Tomorrow …
Tomorrow I head back upstate for work that I will gratefully be done with on 7/20. I will get that double handed feeling again I’m sure. I will attempt to jump in only to be entangled in the ropes of Upstate New York‘s disjointed coldness. I know there is a rhythm there, I just can’t seem to find it. There are microseconds, while I’m at a recovery meeting, or when I receive a genuine “hello” or “good morning” but this doesn’t happen often. I accept it any how because I know that part of finding my rhythm/my place in this new life is being off rhythm for awhile.
It is during the times when I feel “double-handed” or unsafe that I learn the most. Those are the time I use the tools I was given. Those are the times I experience the most growth. So I embrace my double-hands and knock knees as red light indicators that I’m alive and on my way to catching a new rhythm and doper beat, a faster tempo, a deeper groove. I’m on my way to this:
Ok, well maybe not this, but dammit I’ll be close to “1-2-3 Independence!”*
Rosie.* “1-2-3 Independence” is a double-dutch chant that was used back in my time while jumping. It was one of my favorites :). You can hear a few more here