Blog Identity Crisis

I started Beyond the Zeitgeist as a New York City blog—random acts of culture from beyond the zeitgeist. “Culture” in the broadest sense, meaning just about anything out there that took my fancy. Certainly not myself.

It seems a little early for a blog to have an identity crisis. In fact, it’s the author who’s having the identity crisis—in a way, starting this blog has been part of it. It’s a beyond-the-zeitgeist crisis: I lost my very long-term freelance gig, I’ve already had a long and checkered career, and I have to decide whether to relaunch myself in New York City or retire to Mexico, where I can afford to live in moderate comfort without working.

Retiring to Mexico is both tempting and terrifying. On the one hand, it would be in a town—San Miguel de Allende—I’ve stayed in many times, where I have friends. It’s beautiful. I have the offer of a beautiful little house, a casita, on a friend’s property, at a very good rent.

The problem is, I’m a New Yorker. Not born, but bred. I’ve lived here for 43 years—virtually all of my adult life. The layout of Manhattan is part of my brain’s wiring. New York City Ballet seasons are not about “going to the ballet;” they’re part of my identity. Virtually every dancer I came up with has retired—Wendy Whelan is the the only one left—but there are some very interesting younger ones, like Ashley Bouder.

In my experience, the youngest dancers are not interesting. No matter how precocious, they’re all technique. It takes years to grow into a personality and become an interesting dancer. Ashley Bouder and some others have been around long enough now to be interesting. And there are always surprises. Philip Neal used to seem much too sleek, too feline. And then one night a couple of years ago I watched him partnering and thought, something’s happened. He’s changed. He’s starting to be interesting. Leaving town means missing those moments, like missing the moment when your child starts talking.

Wendy Whelan used to scare me. She was so intense, and thin, with those preternaturally long arms and every bone in her upper ribcage and back standing out. Then, several yeas ago, she suddenly became transfixing. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this, but I didn’t find it out second-hand, either. I discovered it for myself, watching her dance. When I read about other people’s observations, they merely confirmed my own.  It was thought that this had to do with her relationship with the man she subsequently married, and that was interesting. But the most interesting was watching her dance.

I don’t feel ready to give that up. Losing the chance to watch the dancers dance, and change, and become interesting—not to mention seeing the occasional interesting new piece of choreography—feels like a kind of death.

My project is to to go down to San Miguel for a few months first, to see how comfortable I’d be living there. That makes sense, intellectually. Perhaps even emotionally.

To be continued….

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