A Confession: What I Really Do in Public Restrooms.
I do this strange thing in public restrooms.
I’m sure I’m not the first person to do strange things in a public restroom. Probably not even the first person to write about it — though that’s not a rabbit hole I’m super interested in exploring.
It happens like this:
I am in a restaurant, a bar, a cafe or any communal area (library, bank, museum, airport, hotel, etc.), where lots of humans share space and follow prescribed rules for how they express themselves in said space — and I excuse myself to go use the restroom.
Whether or not I actually have to pee is irrelevant. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
A one-person, private bathroom is ideal. A multiple-person bathroom with individual stalls makes what I’m about to detail much more difficult to accomplish privately.
I walk into that tiny little room, I lock that sticky little lock, I take a long, deep breath, I look at myself in the mirror, and I start to dance. I start to shake and make weird noises and flail about.
Now let me be explicit about something — although I happen to be a professional dancer and choreographer — the movement that takes place in my private restroom session is not graceful or sharp or precise or high caliber. I would love to imagine that it’s quirky, inspired genius — like Margaret Qualley in that badass new Kenzo perfume commercial.
But the truth is less that and more this: I look like a bobble-head doll with glitching robot legs and a popcorn-popper for a pelvis. What I’m saying is, I totally freak the fuck out.
Because after I bobble-popcorn-glitch, I can handle moving around in a public setting where appropriate expression is highly monitored. I can handle sitting in the midst of so many beings with so many feelings and so many words that hide so many feelings.
As an empathic, kinesthetic creature, my instinct is to translate perceptions through my body. And though I’ve just revealed something that will make everyone I know imagine my bobble-head absurdity whenever I excuse myself to use a restroom from now on, I’m certain I am not alone.
I believe we all have empathic, kinesthetic inclinations. I believe it is the disavowment of those inclinations, and the shaming of our body and its expressive prowess, that creates so much sickness and disproportionate violence in society. I believe we are desperate to translate the world and express our translations out loud.
Children do it until we teach them not to.
Yes, they are exploring the capacity of their body and their vocal chords, but they are also acting out their human experience, kinesthetically.
Have you ever seen a kid start shimmying and flapping, all of a sudden, in a grocery store?
The synthetic and the wilderness, the truth and the untruth, the human and the spirit — it’s a lot to process. And this sacred physical tool? It is meant to digest our humanness. It’s not meant to be shackled in shame. It’s not meant to become smaller and quieter and less noticeable.
It’s meant to change and grow and age and strengthen and fall apart and be messy and be ugly and be gorgeous and heal and learn and nurture and televise the story of being alive.
The story of being alive is not harnessed and expressed solely through dance or sports or Yoga, although these are each fantastic outlets.
The story is channeled through our tender and attentive presence with our own physicality. The story is honored when we stand up to the myth of physical sin and fully inhabit the wise and patient vessels we were born into.
If you are at this point in my public restroom confession, it means you did not dismiss me, so I dare to ask the following questions. The label warns that uncomfortable soul-searching may occur if these questions are fully ingested.
Do you find yourself feeling half-spoken, half-heard or half-moved?
Does your body heat up with energy like a premeditating volcano?
Does your body have an empty space that howls with numbing wind?
In what ways do unexpressed perceptions, translations and stories get locked in your body and become weights that burden your joy-making?
In what ways are you authentically drawn to televise the story of being alive?
If you aren’t ready to televise publicly, where are all the best one-person public restrooms in your area?
How can you listen as deeply to your body as you do to your mind?
How can we all support each other to freak the fuck out, in ways that make us more whole and less divided?
How can we learn to encourage vivid, healing expression, even if that expression alters the prescribed rules of our communal spaces?
As we forage for the answers, I offer up this final prayer:
May we cleanse the poison of repression and write new narratives where violence is not the desperate outcome.
May we design more sacred pathways for deep elucidation.
May we honor the unique beast inside of us and in the other.
May we lock ourselves up less, and grow community more.
May we open all the doors to our crazy, perfect dancing.
Jocelyn Edelstein is a writer, filmmaker and choreographer who believes that stories activate the human code of empathy and voice our animal truths. She has been previously published in three Best Women’s Travel Writing anthologies, Conscious Dancer Magazine, 3Elements Review, Commonline Journal, The Doctor’s Review and The Huffington Post, and she has written adventure copy for Hip Camp and thegorge.com. When Jocelyn isn’t writing, she’s making documentaries in Brazil and teaching dance in the Pacific Northwest. Her film work can be found at urbanbodyproject.com and her writing can be read at her blog.