I’ve been in love once.

Not the type of love that comes in the form of a tall, strong man, dipped in hues of chocolate and mahogany. But one that blossomed in vintage Adidas and weathered toe shoes. In secondhand t-shirts and baggy jeans. A love that manifested in standing alone on a studio floor in front of long blocks of mirrors, placed together behind horizontal double bars. A love that echoes in the resin purposely left in the corner of the room, creating a powder beneath my feet.

Smitten by the thought that my love embraced the whole me, I went barefoot on cold, hard floors. Free. In these moments, I forgot that I was one of a few brown faces among a colorless wall. I forgot that I once despised my reflection. Here, I could shape all the dirt and pain into masterpieces of flawed art.

Fast above the universe, I rose on the floor every day, embracing the callused skin on the balls of my feet from all the Chaînés I did across the room. Spotting the picture of the black ballerina on the wall, I’d twirl rapidly. Ripping band-aids off of my toes to gain more momentum as I leapt. I was never great at it, but that moment of air held me tighter than any feeling I had ever felt.

Many times, I lost myself in love. In the middle of that studio, alone and with the lights dim, I’d turn up the black box stereo as high as I could, and listen to beats of soul, jazz, and hip-hop. Grabbing the rhythm from underneath its hiding place, I’d go into a place far from this ordinary life. Painting my life’s story on the floor with vintage adidas, I’d create movement. Shake, pop, twirl. Leap, bend, extend. Fusing African, ballet, and hip-hop, I’d dance until I didn’t feel my limbs moving anymore. Until, I looked down at the chest, only to watch it stretch up and down, while my lungs begged for deeper breaths of oxygen. Until, I felt the warmth of blood flow through my hands, and heard the drums of my heartbeat in my ears. Until the last drop of sweat fell from the tip of my nose, to the floor that I’d just given my soul to.

Freedom.

-Tranaé Farmer-Boston

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