I tend to be a calculator. Not in the mathematical sense—I’m pretty sure I set the left side of my brain ablaze whenever I attempt anything “math.” What I mean is, I think about everything I do before I do it, calculating the vulnerability barometer and how it will affect those around me. It’s a trait that has kept me out of a lot of trouble but if I don’t remember to turn off the switch from time to time, it has the capacity to keep me out of some fun bouts of spontaneity.
Last night my friends convinced me to go salsa dancing with them. (That’s right kids, you don’t have to study abroad to learn the bachata and salsa and merengue! You can learn for free in your very own German Midwestern city!) We pulled up to a warehouse with purple spotlights in a car driven by our friend Rose, who was laying on the horn and yelling, “Have fun, kids!” out the window in the most wonderful dad fashion. After going in the wrong entrance, almost disrupting a senior citizens’ Ladies Night dance, we scurried to the back of the warehouse and feasted our eyes on a chill as frick night club, complete with a dance floor that would soon serve as our one-way ticket to vulnerability (maybe not for my friend Abe though, since he’s practically a professional). Before I knew it, the art of salsa was setting my Midwestern hips on fire and we were dancing. A few Coronas later and on a scale from one to Enrique Iglesias music video, we were about an eight. (Very interested in what would’ve happened if tequila had been involved.)
Between the five of us, we got the distinct opportunity to dance with talented Latino strangers. Once you look the least bit alone at these salsa nights, older dancers will flock and ask for a dance. I was taking a break with my friend Connor when a very handsome guy appeared to my left, unaware of me but clearly partner-less and in need of my dancing abilities (I jest). My dear friend Connor gently (incessantly) encouraged me (shoved me into the guy) to ask the guy to dance. So without further calculation, the Shakira in me threw that mental TI-84 calculator to the wind and approached the dreamy guy and danced and danced and danced. The suave Mexico native, Patricio, was as nice as can be, teaching my apologetic but carefree self how to bachata and merengue dance, complete with a lovely Spanish accent. And let me tell you, it was fun.
Vulnerability, however uncomfortable or scary, can be a catalyst for growth and adventure and a ridiculously good time. Was I gung-ho to salsa dance an hour before we left? No. Just ask my friends. And as it turned out, by the end of the night Patricio found a much more talented and smooth dancing partner (I mean we all saw that coming and I ain’t even mad). But none of the fun or laughing would have happened if I hadn’t left that calculator at home and asked vulnerability to hit the dance floor.
Now go salsa with your Patricio, honey.