Greetings from Berlin!
Guten Tag , Berlin! That’s where we are currently on tour, teaching a weekend intensive. We had a quiet start to the new year, nesting and getting reoriented. Now it’s back to the studio, back to touring, and all systems go. We had a great time at MAD Jam lots of amazing social dancing and many eager learners – we hope to travel that way more often soon. Chicago was a blast as usual and we had amazing response to our Showcase win, and the routine feels stronger than ever! Next up, we are headed to our home event, Seattle Eatser Swing, and then to the California coast for City of Angels and San Francisco Dance Sensation.
2012 – Really?!?
Well. 2012 is finally behind us. What started a year ago now seems like a blur. As I write it seems like it should have been a screenplay.
January 2012, it was shaping up to be an amazing year – we were still on the high from winning 2nd place at the US Open in Showcase division, and a month later on Xmas eve, Myles popped the question under the tree! We planned the wedding for October, squeezing it into what seemed at the time to be the least busy time for all involved, while still leaving enough time for us to focus on preparing for the US Open at the end of November. Had that been the only hurdle, it would have been a great idea.
The next 9 months snowballed and got exponentially more hectic. Shortly after New Years, we moved from our swank downtown Vancouver apartment to a full house in the suburbs. It was a planned move – we needed more space to accommodate Myles’ parents who relocated from Calgary to live with us (prime catsitters and future babysitters!). But the house we found was intended to be temporary until we could take our time and buy one together (separate suites, of course!). It was a good plan in theory, but the house was cursed. Among many physical issues with the house, the landlord announced 6 weeks after we moved in that he planned to put it on the market. He only wanted tenants to live there while it was for sale. We had signed a month-to-moth lease because we were planning to buy soon, so we expected it to be to our advantage. We were lied to and taken advantage of. As for wedding planning, we technically only had a fraction of those 9 months: due to our hectic travel schedule, we had to cram the planning into our precious intermittent time at home between tours. We just crossed our fingers that we would not have to deal with moving again before the wedding.
Tessa’s been planning events all her life, so the wedding planning was quite efficient, thoughtful, and custom-designed. Myles was the dutiful fiancee – offering his two cents but otherwise letting the bride have her way. Good thing we have the same taste, and after 10 years, know each other’s preferences extremely well. The spring and summer were clicking along nicely except that starting in May, Tessa’s voice got weaker every weekend from a combination of yelling over music, teaching without microphones, and general overuse. It got worse toward the end of the summer, and after Summer Hummer, she was aphonic for almost a full week (no sound). After seeing a specialist, they discovered a polyp on her vocal chords that was almost surgical but still had a chance at natural recovery, with total rest. At this point the wedding was only a month away and no time could be spared.
The healing process was underway and we were working at Bridgetown Swing when we received tragic news that our dear friend, dancer Cody Melin, suffered from heart failure and was on life support. Myles flew across the country to be by his side, and after the difficult decision was made to take him off life support, he stayed on to support his widow Tracey during the aftermath. They were to be guests at our wedding, now 3 weeks away. Myles came home and had to push grief aside to focus on the happiest event of our lives.
You know that saying about “triumph through adversity”? Yeah. One week after Cody’s death our landlord announced he had sold our house.
The law gives us 60 days notice to move out in this case, which means we were safe for the wedding, but the vacancy date was November 29. We would have had to move during the US Open.
You can imagine the stress we were under at this point: vocal injury, death of a close friend, imminent wedding, and now urgently needing to once again go through the process of looking for a place to live for both our families. We couldn’t even bear to think about the US Open – it just seemed so far in the future, and we were mentally just barely surviving day to day. Psychologists say that among life’s top stressors are divorce, wedding, labour, moving, death of a loved one, loss of job, and life-threatening disease diagnosis. Yeah we made a hat trick with 3 of them in the course of 3 weeks. We now, more than ever, respect and sympathize with those who have gone through the others.
The wedding was a bubble of bliss. See separate note. It was an oasis of perfection and heaven amongst the most turbulent 3 months of our lives. Myles aged/grew up several years as a result of both the processes of wedding planning and widow support. The change in him was beautiful, and our relationship was launched to a new level. People ask us if we feel different now that we are married. We say no, it was the process leading up to the wedding that made the difference, not the rings. Yes, Tessa’s voice returned just in time to say “I do”.
As soon as the wedding was over, we went into hyperdrive. We found and committed to a routine song, and Tessa started designing the costumes. All four of us set about finding a place to live, aiming to move ASAP, as far in advance of the Open as possible. Two days after the wedding, as if we needed any more motivation to leave this cursed house, our car was stolen from the driveway. Police recovered it 24 hours later, luckily intact and drivable. Four days after the wedding, we found the perfect house. Separate suites, freshly gutted and renovated, with a gorgeous view and complete garden, and a garage big enough to protect our car and give Myles space to work on his motorcycles. Best part was it was vacant since the renovation and we could move in anytime, and take our time. It’s a rental, of course, because we haven’t yet had time to shop for one to buy. But this place is so nice, we are swaying towards staying here for a several years – no rush now. And the landlord is sane. And we signed a lease.
The next 4 1/2 weeks were underwater. We lost a week of prep time due to moving, and almost another week in Paris. Which left 2 1/2 weeks to prepare for the biggest competition of the year, and after last years success, the pressure was on. Daily life included waking up, packing, then going to the studio, to the costumer’s for a fitting, then coming home to crash. We certainly didn’t have time to plan costumes before the wedding. Tessa put school teaching on hold so we could pull double practices at the studio in order to catch up on hours missed. We needed every second of it – we were way behind our prep time comfort zone. We were constantly sore – from rehearsing and from packing/loading boxes – we never got any rest except to sleep. As if that crunch wasn’t enough, when we were packing for the US Open, we had to pack for 3 weeks, because it was to be the beginning of a tour that included Chico Dance Sensation and our annual vacation to Hawaii before Christmas.
The US Open was unbelievable. We were on staff this year, which was really special for us, being able to represent international dancers, and we were announced in competition for the first time as a married couple. We were celebrating our 10th anniversary of competing at the US Open, while it celebrated its 30th anniversary of the event itself. Going into the Showcase division, we were exhausted, beaten up, frayed, and under alot of pressure. Rehearsals were terrible, and we hadn’t run the routine with lifts included, to music at full speed, until the floor trials the day of. While the routine was exquisite, and the lifts ready, we simply hadn’t accumulated the mileage it deserved.
We always approach our routines with a sense of a story, and emotion, or characters to portray. Last year the audience cheered on Tessa’s character as she “washed that Myles right out of her hair”. This year, we wanted to evoke a different kind of passion. We wanted to make people antsy for the division to end so they can take their significant other upstairs, wink wink. We figured it was appropriate, considering our newlywed status. People could cheer us on…in different ways…;) Well, the video shows it best, but we were so shocked that the routine went so perfectly – not one flub. We had every reason to fail. After the last 3 months, we had every reason to sit back on our laurels or succumb to the pressure or not be focused. But we rose up and triumphed through adversity. We were able to put all of it aside an focus on the task at hand and our love for dance. Cheesy but true. We shocked ourselves! Thus the temporary insanity claimed by Tessa during our bows. We couldn’t believe we did it. Best of all, it didn’t feel like a fluke – it felt intentional and focused, precise and driven. Like the first test drive of the latest edition of Myles and Tessa. We wore our strips of Cody’s memorial shirt tucked in under our costumes.
We were awed by our fellow competitors, and proud to have a growing Showcase division. We were blown away by Benji and Torri’s routine and very much respect their work. We were relieved and joyful to win 2nd place again, this time with nice clean scores – 2nd’s across the board. What an amazing feat after all we had been through. Now all we wanted to do was make it to Hawaii. It took us a torturous week of anticipation before we finally made it to the finish line – landing on our friend’s Kona lanai. After a few days of recuperation, and a few more of quasi-honeymoon, Myles parents joined us for the final week. It was our Christmas present to them, and a thank you for their hard work in preparing the wedding. We had an amazing time, but were looking forward to going home, now that we had a home to look forward to. At this point we had technically lived in Hawaii for more days than we had lived in our new house. We came home and immediately started nesting mode. Christmas gave us the motivation to finish the move in process, which meant we hit the ground running. We hosted Christmas eve dinner and invited Tessa’s parents, which was a great collaboration with 2 kitchens and 2 dishwashers. After the parents left we melted into our sofa, cuddled up and watched TV together, we realized it was the first time that had happened in months, and it happened to be exactly one year from the night Myles proposed.
So here we are – new marriage, new routine, new house, new car. All the craziness is behind us. 2013 seems so blank, so tabula rasa. Nothing on the docket. Business as usual. Kinda need to remind ourselves what “usual” used to be, and evaluate if upgrades need to be made. Here’s one: focusing on things outside ourselves. We’ve had blinders on for so long, we have lots of karma to payback, and we miss our friends and family, talking to them about their lives, instead of ours. Here’s another one: business catchup. Time to respond to emails in a timely manner again, update this website, make strictly dates, and work on the dance community projects that had to be bumped to the back burner last year. And last but not least: health. Tessa’s starting to wean on to red meat again, for the first time in 17 years, and Myles is going Paleo. Just hope we can maintain these habits on tour. Excited for a nice calm year!