The Journey Begins…

Well, folks, I am riding on MO-X, a bus that runs from Columbia to the St. Louis airport, where I will be boarding a flight to LA and to my job. I can’t believe it is back already to life on the road. It seems like the minute I got re-accustomed to living in a house and not out of a suitcase, I am being thrown back into the fray.

For those of you who don’t know, I am the merchandise girl for the Bellydance Superstars. In January 2009, I took a huge risk – I quit my job and ran away to the circus. I mean, um, I joined BDSS for their Spring 2009 U.S. tour. It turned out to be… one of the most incredible, confusing, mind-blowing, and life-altering experiences of my life thus far. I grew so much as a person, and the growing experiences keep reverberating off of it even off the road. Two months is a lifetime when you’re packing up your life every night in a different state in the same tired, dilapidated green American Tourister.

I didn’t get a chance to journal while I was on the road last tour (I had a computer that would only function if I jerry-rigged the power cord with a bra strap, a jar, and a carefully wedged wad of paper), but for many reasons I really want to document this part of my life and my journey. It was largely inspired by my future grandkids, actually – keep reading, I’m not completely insane.

It’s January 2009, and life couldn’t get better. I was living in a little yellow rental house with a green front door in Columbia with my boyfriend of 2.5 years. I had two cute little kittens. I was ridiculously overpaid at a great job at a local newspaper for the chillest boss I have ever had. I had health insurance. I was dancing with a really innovative dance company.

I was empty.

I would think about it sometimes. Here was my life – the Columbia, Missouri version of every crappy sitcom you see on TV with allegedly twenty-somethings working at jobs they couldn’t possibly have and living in loft apartments they couldn’t possibly afford – and all I could see was myself in 40 years as a surly, crotchety grandma sitting on a rocking chair, telling my grandkids about my ordinary life in Missouri while their eyes glazed over and they telepathically sent messages to their mother to let them leave.

I got scared, and the quarter-life crisis struck.

I told myself that 2009 was going to bring something huge, and I told myself things were going to change forever. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know when. But I knew, I KNEW that something was on the horizon. I refuse to look back and feel regret.  Let’s face it: I can’t knit or crochet, and with a B.A. in English I’m destined to be too poor to leave anyone anything of value. Having amazing life stories is my only option for being a cool grandma.

Oh a whim, I emailed Miles Copeland, the owner of the Bellydance Superstars, after reading they were looking for a merch girl. Following great advice from Petite Jamilla, I became a squeaky wheel (I hear they get the oil) and marketed the heck out of myself – and I was beyond floored when I got a message back that simply read, “You sound like the person we need. Where do you live?” I got the job.

My cool newspaper job? Put in my two weeks. My relationship? Put on hold. My dance company back home? Put aside. My life? Paused. My sanity? In question. 3 months, several states and many miles later, here I am. I toured for two months, and I loved it. And I realized I have found it, that elusive “it,” that drive that we’re told as kids we’ll someday find: I found my passion. I want to belly dance. I want it to be my career. I want to make this work. I have felt passionate about precious few things in my life, and I know that there is nothing else I would sacrifice this much for.

And there has been a LOT of sacrifice for this job. Many important things and people in my life have suffered because of my pursuit of my dream. But I’m ready to live, and not just play a role in the Columbia version of “Friends.” I’m ready to make my own luck and make this dream a reality.

So the true function of this blog is this: I am a 22-year-old living in Columbia, Missouri, that’s trying to make it as a belly dancer in a world that undervalues art in general. I don’t know how, but I’m going to make this work. I’m going to work like hell to someday dance with the Bellydance Superstars, and I’m going to work to build a name near my home. I hope this blog can help others like me as I share stories, experiences, and what works and what doesn’t. I hope that anyone reading this can contribute the same.


2 responses to “The Journey Begins…

  1. This was so great to read! As the former merch girl for BDSS I can completely understand how much this job can change your life, both for the good and the not-so-good. I can honestly say that working with the BDSS was the best thing that I could have done in my 20’s and I would never have left if it weren’t for this damn ticking biological clock and the craving for a home life that started to increase after 5 years of never being home. I miss being on the road with my girls, hell I even miss Stevo, but I am thrilled to hear that you appreciate what a wonderful gig it is and I have heard from several people that you’re doing a wonderful job! That makes it much easier for me not to be there! Have fun and take lots of pictures!

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