I posted this on March 10 2016, the day after my 40th birthday, and the day after I performed The Red Dress.
Yesterday I turned 40, and at one point, I wanted to give up.
One day last year, I was really sad and the only way to deal with it was to dance it. And so The Red Dress project was born.
I asked my intern Tippi Sy to crochet me a dress. Marco Ortiga made a chair where the end of the dress would be tied. Then I would have to dance until the whole dress unraveled.
I practiced so much, I had a plan, I had a structure, I had a map. But of course, life throws you a curveball. Always.
After an hour or so of dancing, somehow part of the dress got tangled, got into a big mess and I couldn’t unravel it anymore. I pulled and pulled and the thread snapped in two places. Fuck.
The Red Dress team had asked me about a plan B in case something like that happened. Do we hide a blade somewhere? And as I am with a lot of things, there is no plan B. I also told Tippi before hand to not help me in any way in case something happens.
So there I was , with a knot in the dress, without my glasses which meant I couldn’t see anything. I pulled and pulled, the dress wouldn’t give. And no matter how much I tried to focus my eyes, I just couldn’t see anything. And I started to cry.
I kept trying to figure it out. My fingers hurt.
So many thoughts were going on inside my head: Should I give up? Should I ask for help? Someone help me. Fuck. I can’t see. I can’t see. I can’t give up.
I felt very exposed out there, sitting, not dancing anymore, just trying to figure out the knot. What if I don’t figure it out?
After 45 minutes, something loosened. It didn’t give but I felt a loop loosen somewhere. I pulled, I bit it, I pulled and pulled, and then finally, the thread snapped and started to unravel again.
I continued. Everything I practiced though was gone. I was just filled with a determination to see this through.
Halfway past the third hour, I was so tired and thirsty. Breathing was hard because my throat was so dry. I tried to stand up, but I got dizzy. And at some points, the thread would knot again and I wanted to cry each time.
In the end, after the whole dress unraveled, I started to cry. it was like a big release of emotions, of everything that I’d been holding on to for the past 40 years.
So now my right shoulder hurts, my back hurts.The skin on my knees and tops of my feet are scraped off. So many bruises. Blisters on my fingers. A total performance time of 4 hours 8 minutes and 35 seconds.
All worth it.
Yesterday I wanted to give up, but I didn’t, and I am grateful for everyone who stuck it out with me through that very difficult time.
It seems silly that all this started with a boy. I was on the phone with him, right before I stepped onto the stage. He wasn’t coming.