Another May Eve and May Day have come and gone. Last May dawned clear and bright as I joined my team for the first time. This May Day didn’t so much dawn as it did lighten the rain clouds slightly. The team gathered in the rain and danced in the Summer anyway. After a short stand at the home of one of our Four Foremen of the Apocalypse, we walked up the road to the town common to join the other teams that gather there each year. Oh, did I mention we took the Easy Up canopy with us? Accordions don’t do well in the rain. Actually we took the canopy over us, and a few of us danced our way up onto the rainy common sheltered under a moving tent. Because we could.
Last year I needed that May Day sunrise to lift my spirits and believe that I would eventually get through my long hard winter. This year I actually didn’t mind the rain that much at all. It never got fully horizontal, after all, although it did seem to intensify every time our team took our turn at that stand on the common. We mocked the sky and kept dancing wearing our normal spring kit, with our jackets left under that canopy. Rain jackets are definitely NOT part of kit.
After our stand on the common, we headed down to the University to have breakfast, and dance a few stands at gardens on the campus. The rain actually let up a bit by mid-morning, and the permaculture provided a fitting if soggy site. This was our second year dancing there, and it’s becoming a fixture of the May Day tour.
As last year, we headed down to a local charter school to do a stand for the elementary students in their gym, where the weather would not be an issue in any case. The kids were fantastic this year, probably the most enthusiastic the team could remember. It didn’t hurt to have some kids from the school on the youth team with us, or for that matter, the utterly fantastic team of teenagers along as well.
We ended the tour as we always do, dancing a short stand for the lunch group at the local senior center. The senior lunches are held in the same room the team uses for practice every week. We had a fun stand with one of the women’s teams that frequently tours with us. Once again, Barbara’s friend from the knitting group was there. This time she was looking for me, and I for her. After the stand we met and this time, instead of having a cry together we just caught up, as I let her know how my girls and I were doing.
Just as I left the room it suddenly dawned on me that for the last year and some change, I had been practicing in the same place she spent all her Fridays, helping the seniors run their knitting circle, and hearing all their stories from their lives, stories from all over the world, because it was a really interesting and diverse group of women. The fact that it was the same place had never occurred to me in all that time. I laughed out loud at my own cluelessness. For a moment I thought that for the last year I had been dancing for her, but really that’s not true. I did this for me, to force myself to keep moving when I really didn’t want to, to avoid getting stuck in my hole.
A year ago I needed that sun, because I needed to feel warmth from something. I needed a perfect spring weekend, I needed all that sun to thaw my frozen numb psyche out. I thawed, and got past numbness. For a long time after that mostly what I felt was pain, but at least I could feel something, and that was a start. Over the last year I learned to dance with that pain, to explore it, to bear it.
One for grief, one for growth. That’s what I have been telling myself over the last few months, as I looked at the cleanup behind me, and the work left to do to put my life back together. Well, growth is messy. It requires water, and fertilizer, and it’s often muddy. Let it rain this May Day, and as often as it needs to in this year of growth.
This afternoon, after we had lunch together, after all the dancing and singing was done, we left the pub into a bright sunny afternoon. “We did it!” we laughed, “we danced the sun back out.”
Yes, I believe we did. Thank you, Juggler Meadow Morris Men, Wake Robin, Hart’s Brook, and ASY, and Concentus and the Third Saturday Gang, too.
It’s good to be on the other side.