I twirled today.
For those of you reading this who are not personally acquainted with this author, this may seem a very curious statement. Perhaps it seems so even to those who do know me, who know the me I have been of late. But I am reawakening to a struggle to uncover my true God-given self, and I realised tonight that one small but important aspect of that true self is the twirl.
I do not recall when I first starting twirling. It is not a complex action: just a snappy little runway turn I learned in my 4‑H fashion model days. I am striding along and without warning execute a quick 180º pivot on the balls of my feet. On the catwalk I would then reverse this turn and continue on strutting my stuff, but at some point my college-age self decided two things. The first was a technical modification: by shifting my weight to what had originally been my back foot and swinging what had been my front foot quickly around in the direction of the turn, I could make this silly little back-and-forth move into a full revolution without really breaking my stride. The second decision I made was that I could do this move anywhere, at any time.
And so I became a twirler. I do not think I really started doing this on any regular basis until after I graduated from college, for I am fairly certain that it was a bookstore friend who dubbed the move thus. “Beanie, did you just twirl?” she asked me, and what could I say? I so obviously had, and would continue to do so for several years. Before long I came to find it an effective way to turn corners while maintaining a quick pace; instead of a 360º revolution, it stretched into a 450º as I spun quickly in the direction opposite from my intended turn and then straightened it out, using my momentum from the twirl to continue my lanky stride off in the new direction. I don’t know what customers thought of this display, for I never asked them. But I do know my friends and co-workers were all bemused to various extents. It was just another eccentricity in the ever-expanding oddity that was the daily Beaner Show.
Tonight I was striding home along the darkened sidewalk, eager to arrive home after yet another long soul-devouring day at work. There is a significant detail I need to point out in that sentence: I was striding. I do not dawdle on my nightly return to the bosom of my family, but the appellation I typically employ in reference to my pace is slog. It is simply the most I can push myself to on most days. But tonight, for the first time in a very long time, I was striding again.
It was a wonderful feeling, and carried away by the small euphoria of the moment, I twirled. It was dark, the sidewalk is not particularly well-lit along that stretch of my walk home, but it is a busy residential street, and many cars were passing from both directions at that particular moment. I cannot be sure someone saw me, but it is not unlikely. And I felt so free, so unchained, so alive. I felt myself again.
It immediately occurred to me that for all my trademark twirling in preceding years, I had never before done it alone in public like this. I had of course twirled many times in various public places in the company of my friends. But it seems to me that in the company of a group of friends, particularly at a certain stage of young adulthood, you create a sort of roving private wherever you go. My friends formed an unseen bubble of shared experience that enabled me to be as, well, as shameless as I was at that time. But now I was truly out on my own. I had no posse of amused contemporaries to smile at my antics. I had no emotional screen from the public gaze. But I realised that that need not prevent me from spontaneous exuberance. And with that realisation I took an important step, or rather an important twirl, toward shedding the deadweight that I have allowed to encrust my once-flamboyant soul. Soon, I hope, I can spin it all away, and begin to live a life of freedom and joy once again. I think I know a young wife somewhere who wouldn’t mind if that came to pass.