My phone told me it was 7am when my eyes fluttered open. I felt like I had had a solid nights' rest in my comfy bed, when really I was waking up on a couch in my friend Whitney's dorm after 4 hours' sleep.
My stomach fluttered.
Not in that whoops, I-drank-too-much-last-night way; but in a way I hadn't felt in a while.
It was... happiness.
I cuddled under Whitney's University of Michigan tie blanket, I still had an hour until I had to get up to go to my 9am organic chemistry lecture. I was in a state of disbelief over the events of the previous night: I had gone to a ballroom lessons which I had loved every minute of, and then I had done even more ballroom dancing but this time with alcohol and dim lighting. What more could I want from life?
This would mark my 9th day as a student of the University of Michigan and I couldn't help but love every moment more than the last.
Just two days ago, I had picked up a free bagel that they have every Wednesday in one of the buildings, and was walking on one of Michigan's iconic diagonal sidewalks when the bell tower began to ring bohemian rhapsody. I almost started crying, and I never cry. This was unreal for me, being on an actual college campus , and such a beautiful one at that.
And now I was waking up happier than I had felt in a long time as far as my social life was concerned. I had been to my second Michigan party last night and it had to have been one of the best parties I've been to in my life. The ballroom team was an awesome group of people, I appreciated that they not only partied hard but they really danced! This had not been your typical college party where dancing was basically grinding, this had been legit dancing, with only the slightest bit of grinding strategically thrown in the context of the dance. Not to mention I spent half of the party dancing with probably the best dancer at the entire party! I smiled at my luck, my stomach fluttering just at the thought of the previous night. It had been my first ballroom party, and I ended up having the best time!
An hour and a half later, the brisk January breeze nipped at the few inches between the hem of my leggings and the start of my converse. It felt amazing: the fresh Ann Arbor air as I walked with my bagel from Panera Bread in hand to my first class. Thursday night parties might not be a problem with my 9am classes, because of my strange inability to sleep after consuming alcohol. Clearly I was doing something right with my life. The morning was perfectly overcast, it didn't need to be sunny because I was just so genuinely happy.
This feeling of unrequired and unexpected happiness was vaguely familiar, and it took the walk to the chemistry building to remember the last time I had felt this happy: it had been the last time Ian had kissed me. This unexpected joy had been absent for many months, not to say I hadn't enjoyed the months in between, but it had been many months since something so exciting had just come out of the blue.
This was what the college experience had to be: full of surprises.
I thought back to the moment at yesterday's lesson when James had lifted me. I would have liked to have described how he looked into my eyes and the ballroom melted away and the energy between us seemed to be on a different wavelength than the rest of the universe. But that would be predictable, I thought it was even better that I could describe the lift as a moment when I fell in love with my life. Suddenly I had such a great opportunity in front of me, to make the most of something unexpected. It was something I could have never anticipated and something that reminded me that great things can come when you're not looking for them.
My entire body felt permeated with pizza grease when I returned home from my job late in the evening. I had been working as a waitress at a small independent pizzaria for about a year and eight months. It was a job that had served me well during my time at community college and I had worked my way up to become one of the most respected employees in the place. I had spent my entire shift contemplating joining the ballroom team and I knew I would be prepared to quit the very next day. I did have the other job at Abercrombie and Fitch which was more convenient and easier work but wasn't as much money.
But for the sake of my bank account I didn't want to be hasty in quitting, and I knew I should sleep on joining the ballroom team without any alcohol in my system.
"So how was it?" My mom asked as I sat down at our kitchen table after I walked in the door.
"Awesome," I was smiling as I described the events of the night before, skipping the entire party because stories that included adult beverages were entirely off limits with my mom. What she didn't know about my illegal doings wouldn't hurt her, "but I think I'll sleep on it another night."
"Xaylia, you've already made up your mind," my moms smile matched mine.
She was right, of course, like moms often are. I think the moment I did my first cha cha with no instruction I decided this was for me.
I made plans to go in and talk to my boss and quit my job the very next day.
Maybe it seemed irrational: go to one lesson and one party and quit my well paying job two days later. But I knew this feeling: it was instinct. My heart was telling me that I needed to be in that ballroom, to wear those heels, and to dance. And I knew my heart would never lead me astray, listening to it could only lead to more wonderful surprises.