I used to be an ordinary person. I had a codified way of living in the world that I had downloaded unquestioningly from the society I lived in, and even though the software was incompatible with my hardware and I was miserable, I didn't know there was any other software out there for downloading.
Then I became a tango dancer.
And I downloaded new software that blew my operating system apart and completely replaced it with a new one. It was like going from Mac OS to Linux by way of a grenade. Instead of having a system that was easy to work in as long as I did everything exactly what someone else thought I should do, and nothing else, I now had a system based on building my own building blocks with which to do whatever I wanted to do. Instead of Society telling me what to do, I was now telling Society what to do.
I loved it.
I did not, however, end up loving the standard programs and games available for this new platform.
So I am not a tanguera any more. I am something else now.
I'm sorting out my own way of using this flexible build-it-yourself operating system, without the standard applications. I still practice and study, I'll be performing this spring, and I can't wait to get back to Buenos Aires and see my peeps and sacar una viruta en la pista. But go out to milongas? No. What poor product I've built so far with my OS is too precious to me to use for some free-admission online game that exposes it to any amount of malware and viruses. I do not pretend to be the last word on tango or lay any claims to the most rhapsodic embrace, but my dance is my dance, and my embrace is my real embrace. So real that I cannot bear to share it with anyone except for someone who truly lies close to my heart.
Therefore...no more tanguera.
They always told me one day I would be one of the great milongueras. But “milonguera” is more of a philosophical term than a technical one. “Tanguera” is, a woman who dances tango. It's an external term. Anybody who puts on a pair of Comme il Fauts is a tanguera. But milonguera is an internal term referring to a world-view that can only be accrued by personal experience over a long time. There are many tangueras but not many milongueras. And although all tangueras look alike, every milonguera is different. “Tanguera” is something others call you. Milonguera is something only you can build for yourself. It is the summation of the entirety of your life up to a given point. And earning the right to inhabit that term is a process unique to each milonguera.
For me, earning my Milonguera Scout Badge meant building a brand-new life for myself. It meant facing my own death. It meant going through a period of not dancing any more. It meant going through a period where I couldn't even walk, and did not know if I was ever going to do so again. It meant coming out the other side and bringing my dance with me and knowing that it was that much richer for all it had endured. And, it meant that after writing the book, never wanting to see the book again in my life, forgetting about the book, and letting the book rest, I had to come back and package the book up for public consumption and share it.
I've been writing this book for about three years. It was originally called The Tango Diaries. Because that's what it was, and because it was my nod to the odyssey of Che. I knew I was on my own odyssey. My own journey home. I had no idea what home would look like when I got there, but I knew that every step I took led me closer. I also knew I would never get “there.” Journey is all, and destination is merely a pit stop on your way somewhere else.
But...there was a time in my life that had a definite beginning, middle, and end, that created who I am today, and that taught me that if you're not on a journey home, you're not going anywhere.
It was a time of marvels and of hydras. Of lust and of wanderlust. Of bitterness and of betrayal. Of hope and of despair. Of rage and of rose petals. Of blossoming and of true love. Of craft and of laughter. Of eternity and of ephemerality. It was a time of longing, of discovery, of process, and of practice. It was a time that ran claret and crimson and gold with the aromatic juices of creative enterprise.
Dickens would have loved it.
As for me, it was a time that I would not have traded for the all world. And that I never want back.
And all yogis know that the fruits of our practices are worthless until we share them with the world. So, here, world. Here is my small offering to you. Here is my magic apple.
Come take a bite.