by Kate Oberdorfer
So my right foot hurts. And I got news for you: my right foots been hurtin’ since about Aug 1.
It’s the top of the foot, really. That space right between my big toe and second toe, where every time I push my foot to the pavement I get this piercing pain that shoots up my leg and makes me want to sit down and die.
But did I sit down, Reader? Why no, I didn’t. I did what I always did: I danced.
It was the Bachata Congress. Held every August for the past ten years, it’s a four day festival at the Washington Hilton Hotel, that brings together some of the best bachata dancers in the world. There are workshops during the day that range from African dance to Ladies’ bachata styling and then about ten different ballrooms all night long. It’s a dancer’s dream—and after leaving Manhattan, I felt like I needed a little pick me up.
So I went, and got picked up. I got spun and dipped and lifted. I started dancing at 11 pm and stayed until the sun was rising East of Dupont Circle.
And the next day, I died.
It’s no secret that the body is wise. It knows better than we do what it wants and needs and pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. I thought I could outsmart the pain- I thought that if I just kept dancing, the pain would eventually go away and I would be able to carry on and dance as usual.
But it didn’t go like that. After my all night dance-capade, I ended up in two podiatrists’ offices in the span of three days. Why two? Because I wasn’t going to trust the first guy who told me that I couldn’t dance for two months. He was obviously wrong and here was his kicker, "It's really not the end of the world if you can't dance."
I’m sorry, get out of my face.
So I moved onto the next guy. He was from New York, the Bronx actually, and since the Bronx used to be my beat, I decided that I could probably trust him. Plus he was just the cutest little man-he wore this headband with goggles on it to look at my X-Rays and he had a magazine with Jackie Kennedy on the cover.
Obviously we could be friends.
“You have a stress fracture,” he said, pointing at the X-Ray. “You see this bump, here? That’s where the calcium is building up-trying to strengthen the bone. You need to stop dancing. Two, three months at least.”
Could. Not. Hold. Back. The. Tears.
“Listen, I know how you feel. Fitness is my life-but what you can do, is swim. You can swim all day long. You can even get one of those aqua joggers-I’ll give you the order number, and you can do all of your choreography in the pool.”
I was intrigued.
I started going to the pool every day. And I didn’t even practice my aqua bachata, my water salsa, my pool dancing: I swam laps.
And, I swim laps. I swim laps every day for at least an hour and swimming has completely changed my life. Maybe it’s the Aquarius in me, or maybe it’s that Freudian desire that we all want to be back in the womb, but water is calming. Water, is healing.
I'm getting my boot off on Wednesday and I might just have the green light to go salsa dancing on Friday. But that stress fracture in my right foot turned out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. It forced me to slow down it taught me once again, to swim.