Dance changed my life. It changed the direction of where I was going and what I had been focused on.
I was going through a very painful divorce when my Grandmother died. She was my Abuela “ Yellow Hair,” our name we had for her as children to distinguish her from our Abuela “Black Hair."
She was my father’s mother--a very sweet, soft spoken woman who had always been very kind to me.
On the day she was buried, my cousins and I gathered to honor my grandmother. Later that evening, we continued to honor the spirit of my grandmother by going dancing.
It was a beautiful, clear night and I remember walking through the cobblestone streets and feeling her energy all around me.
I watched my cousins salsa dance and I envied their dance skills. I didn’t know how to dance salsa and that night I made a vow that I would learn to dance salsa. I would honor my grandmother by doing so. I went even further by vowing to learn more about my Puerto Rican heritage.
Before then, I had been submerged in American suburbia and had not embraced my Latina heritage. It had been embedded in me as a child to assimilate and not be different. I understood this to be fear based, a pure reaction to the ugly effects of racism in America.
I began taking lessons at a local nightclub with a friend. I became a very good dancer at the age of 43 and at 44, I began to teach Zumba to further embark on my journey in dance.
Today, I see that this was a divine intervention from my grandmother from the great beyond.
Through the art of dance, I met my future husband, made wonderful lifelong friends, and embraced my heritage.
Dance continues to be a part of my life today and I can honestly say it’s never too late to be the person you have always dreamed of becoming.