Eskimo Dance, Valentine’s Day, Blue Skies, and a Dirty Drinking Vessel

Last night I took little boy to Eskimo Dance for the first time. I loved, loved, loved being back in the midst of the drums and old Eskimo songs. As we walked home in the snow with me pulling boy in his sled, I felt excited for the next time.

Going to Eskimo Dance isn’t easy. The group here in this community is primarily made up of King Island Dancers who I don’t really know. I know Diomede folks, but nobody from Diomede was there when I walked in. When I walked in, everybody, including the elders were sitting in chairs along the wall and I saw right away that the drummers hadn’t begun to arrive. (Of course! I was on city time showing up right on time!) I recognized people from around town, but didn’t really know anyone. I felt shy and awkward. I wondered if I was welcome (I know the Diomeders have welcomed me, but they weren’t there). The room felt quiet, but I took a deep breath and recognized that all this is normal and took off our jackets and sat down and waited.

There were some other kids and soon my boy went to go play. He chased another little kid and they both laughed and I talked a little with the women near me who also had kids. When more people arrived, my boy climbed up in my lap hugging me tightly (he was feeling a bit shy as well) and watched the going-ons. The drummers arrived, including a couple past students who are now looking like really strong young men.

The dances began with a couple drum songs. Little boy sat on my lap and felt the rhythm through my legs and moved his hands with mine in the motions of the common dance (the opening dances which are open to all). Even though I’ve been around, I still have to watch and wait and figure out the protocols and etiquette. I waited for another common dance in which more women stood up before I joined in. Sighing in pleasure – it felt so good! My little boy went up as well – both interested in everything going on, overwhelmed by the loud drums, and in awe of everything going on. I could see on his face that the overwhelminess was beginning to tip the scale so I said, “One more dance and then we’ll go home” and he agreed. He stared at the young boys dancing the boys’ dance and I smiled thinking of how fun it will be to watch him when he tries out the dances for the first time.

We joined in the next dance and then bundled back up to head home in the snow. While walking I thought back to the times I lived in Diomede and the small well-used and well- worn Rec Center where drumming and dancing would happen twice a week – with kids racing in and out, teenagers sitting on the back tables whispering and giggling, and wind blowing in snow whenever the door opened. I miss it. If I could go back and do it all again, I think I’d try to soak up and appreciate the Eskimo dancing. It wasn’t an easy thing to be at because I always was aware that I was an outsider and I knew my dancing could use some work and I didn’t know all the etiquette and lots of times I just wanted to be at home or working, but at the same time, I miss it tremendously. There was a cozy famiarity about it that I loved and there were moments amidst all the time I spent there that were so wonderful – like when I really recognized the songs and felt my dancing as part of the other women’s dancing. Ohhh – it is hard to live in the present and appreciate all the things isn’t it?

It was a good night and I am excited to go again and to tackle my shyness and get to know this group of people (and hopefully more of the folks I know will be there next time)

Today we celebrated Valentine’s Day and it was nice. We had a heart shaped breakfast, a couple little presents for the kids and then a nice walk to the frozen ocean with the kids and the dog. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and little girl is walking further and further in her bundled up gear, absolutely content to wait for us to pick her up when she falls face forward in the snow that is too deep for her.

For the kids’ nap, I bundled them up again to go in the stroller thinking I’d get a great long walk in the beautiful winter air. It was beautiful all right, until we got out of town and out of the protection of the houses. The north wind was whipping over the tundra onto the ocean and we were right in its path. The kids didn’t care because they were sound asleep, totally snuggled up and warm, but I felt the cold burn on the side of my face and in my legs which were snowpant free. Nonetheless, we kept walking and returned home an hour or so later feeling the darkness of the house after the intense bright light of the outside.

The late afternoon was spent indoors while the wind outside continued picking up. The kids both ran around naked practicing using the potty. Big boy has got it figured out most of the naked time, but little girl is sitting on the potty at all the wrong times. She really wants to get it and she’ll get it eventually and in the meantime, I’m thankful our floors do not have carpets and are easily cleaned.

The nakedness also seems to lead to crazier play and I soon noticed that the children had absconded with yet another one of my drinking vessels – this time a large glass pickle jar. They had an Elmo spoon dropped in and were now fishing out a small brown porcelein owl (being mindful to pull up their sleeves). The water, the jar – it all looked gross. I sought out a new jar which I may be able to keep away from them for a day or two. They were full of giggles.

And the rest of the evening followed along with puzzles dumped onto the floor and then pieced back together, a call from a friend asking if we’d like some fresh crab they’d just pulled up this evening and the start to some Guinness stout brownies taken from a blogher post.

Considering how exhausted I’ve been feeling these days and how BEHIND I feel with the clutter in our house, I have to sit and appreciate that there really are a lot of rich things managing to sneak their way in.

I only hope I can appreciate them in their goods and bads and awkwardnesses so that I can feel like I fully experienced this wonderful life I am living.

And tomorrow….off to Eskimo dance again.

3 Comments

Filed under Life in Alaska, Life with Kids

3 responses to “Eskimo Dance, Valentine’s Day, Blue Skies, and a Dirty Drinking Vessel

  1. Valeria

    To what you said at the end about truly appreciating and experiencing our lives: when I was in the opera, it was a peak experience, and one I knew I might never have again, so I just – paused. I stopped and looked around and made a mental snapshot. Observed and felt everything I could. I did this a few times. Silly me, I’ve not done that since, but what a great way to get those moments to sink in. I think I’ll try it in other situations too šŸ™‚

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