I would like to introduce you to two Soviet stress relief techniques:
Ukrainian ice dancers and vodka.
My tires may have squealed a bit as I pulled into the rink parking lot. I'll blame it on the hot pavement, but really it was my lead foot. First there was Beltway traffic. Then road construction. Then the guy who sat through an entire left turn light. I was hot, sweaty, late and completely frazzled.
When I looked up (probably scowling), Dmytri was getting on the ice, playfully dancing around and doing all kinds of intricate toe pick maneuvers. He knows this freaks me out given my innate ability to trip over my toe picks. When Dmytri's playful it's infectious. I laughed and traffic became a distant memory. We started stroking.
"Tell me when you're going to turn," I said as Dmytri crossed over and I kept stroking.
"About five steps ago," he answered.
This theme would play out throughout my lesson, Dmytri going one way, me going another. We were doing Dutch Waltz and had turned into the left swingroll in the direct path of a cone blocking off center ice. Dmytri's instinct was to tighten the swingroll, mine was to widen it. The cone kept coming closer and closer. Dmytri pushed me out of the way at the last second.
"It's just a cone," he laughed. "We'll hit it and it will move." Maybe in his perfectly choreographed world. In mine, I hit the cone, then I hit my ass.
When we're warming up skills, Dmytri admits things are "not bad" and I've been trying to work on all the little nit-picky stuff he yaps at me about - turning my head, not swinging my legs around, aligning my hips, holding outside edges as long as possible. I don't know if he's noticing this or not, but he was noticing something wonky about my free leg placement on swingrolls and he kicked me accordingly.
It's possible I'll be ready to test in the fall if I can swing lessons once a week through the summer. We're close to speed and placement with Dutch Waltz but I'm still thinking too much. I'll know we're closer when my brain can shut off and just let my body do what it's being trained to do. Unfortunately, weekly lessons are highly unlikely given summer schedules. I'm going to try to make it happen, but I won't be surprised if I slip into a bit of a holding pattern for the next couple of months. It's okay.
I wanted to stay and practice after my lesson, but my to-do list was ticking off menacingly in my head. I raced about the afternoon, battling traffic and construction and bad drivers. When I arrived home I was hot, sweaty and frazzled. This time vodka made me laugh.