This is in spite of the fact that on Saturday morning I was far too sick to join all the teams for their day's touring in Madison. As an odd post-cold syndrome, I was suffering from terrible vertigo. Yes, I've talked to a doctor and yes I'm better, thank you -- in fact, with something like vertigo once you don't have it you don't have it, unlike other sorts of injuries or illnesses. My point is that it was an impossibility for me to get on one of the buses and head off to dance. When the teams drove away I understood what real actual overwhelming self-pity feels like and I just cried and cried.
Then I fell asleep and basically didn't wake up until all the buses returned, after which I had many delightful and wondrous times, even keeping away from the beer and turning in by 1 am instead of staying up all night dancing.
My whole team was medically cursed, it seems. Ironman Matt injured his ankle Saturday morning, and yet he danced beautifully on it Sunday for our show dance. It's the purplest thing you've ever seen at this point. Douglas smashed his thumb in the bus window as the teams departed, turning it blue. In sympathy the rest of us on the team painted our own left thumbs with blue nail polish the next day, which Judy Goldsmith just happened to have with her. "But why?" I asked. "It's Judy" was the sufficient answer. Young buck Erik was afflicted with some terrible gastric distress on Sunday night starting about 3am, which disappointed him because he couldn't do pickup dancing at that point, as if the two full days and nights previous were not enough. Well, they weren't.
Yes, at 3am Sunday night the pickup dancing was still going strong, with two or three full dancing sets and several musicians. Me, I wasn't there; besides taking it easy because of the previous day's illness I was the designated sleeper for my car, which is the program in which one occupant of every car driving a long distance home the Monday of the Ale promises not to stay up all night. Michael, my driving companion, waited until the sun she rose and the small birds sang merrily upon their laylum before turning in.
Why was it so sweet a time? Because I was back in the Ale world, where at any time you look out on the porch and people are working on a border dance, or a jig. Or the musicians are sitting around playing tunes. Or you are singing songs on a bus. With 150 or 200 people from around the midwest and beyond, people who want to spend their precious holiday time and money on this. Just like you.
I'm feeling particularly happy about our team's show dance on Sunday afternoon. At the end of each touring day of the Ale, the teams gather together in one place and dance for each other. Sometimes this can feel stressful, as if the teams need to perform or show off somehow. But not this year, for some reason. It was a bright sunny happy (if hot) day, at the end of the weekend, and every team just danced their best for pure joy. Because I'd missed the previous day, my teammates every one insisted that I be part of the group in the show dance (it's something of a team honor, when you have more than six dancers at the Ale). We leaped high in the air at foot up and I let loose a shout of delight and we were inside the dance. I saw a video of the dance last night, when our team met for our post-Ale gathering at a local brewpub, and I see from the outside why my heart was full from the inside.
And that's why I feel so much better post-Ale then pre-Ale. Because when your heart fills with joy it takes a while for it to deflate.