Off the Rails - Recalling MICI 2009

I haven’t been to MICI since the summer of 2009.

My dad had just died in May, and Amanda, someone I consider a sister, picked me up on her way from Iowa in her grandmother’s red car. She had inherited it and loved having it to drive everyday; a constant reminder of a loved one. It felt good driving in it. It felt good to be with Amanda. Every day since May 28th had been filled with that off-the-rails sort of behavior, feelings and dreams that come with deep loss. But Amanda was taking me to a thing that she vowed was a must in anyone’s life, so I was hopeful in a way that I hadn’t been in weeks.

Sunday night happened, and I felt fear, excitement, humility and a sneaking suspicion that this MICI, whatever it was, would cure me of the deep grief I was feeling over the loss of my dad. He had been ill, but his death was still sudden and enveloped me in a sadness in which I could hardly function.

Yes, MICI was going to make it all better. I would cry openly a lot, I would be comforted, I would be the one everyone pitied and I would rally behind their support and come away clean. I mean, this is dance, with modern dancers. We listen. We empathize. We support and help and carry the load when our sisters in dance cannot. I was going to rely heavily on this combination in the coming week. I just knew it. Me: Cry. They: Comfort + Pity. Me: Rally + Overcome. I could tell my new dance friends were ready to carry this for me.

And then Monday morning session happened. And I learned one of the most valuable lessons about my field that I shockingly hadn’t yet. Katherine Ferrier made the sweet distinction:

Does what we do, this amazing thing we do called improvisation, can it be therapeutic?

It can be.

Is this therapy?


This amazing woman had introduced herself to me the night before. She had opened her journal covered with birds next to me and I felt an instant bond. She made me trust her. And now this information? This game-changing rule? She said it as if she was not fucking around, either. Her blue eyes were intense: wide open and she made a point to meet everyone’s glance, allowing the information to wash over us before she could move on.

What the fuck was I going to do all week? Who was going to rally behind me? Hold my hand? Hug me when I cried? Tell me I was still awesome and everything was going to be ok? Amanda told me I had to do this thing called MICI – but why? I couldn’t hide here. I couldn’t play a part. I couldn’t go completely off the rails. Didn’t they see I was inches from going completely off the fucking rails??

Over a tearful lunch I told Amanda and Kimi, both seasoned MICI Vets: I don’t think I can do this. I can’t imagine my doing this. It’s too soon. I won’t make it. And their silent response, in my mind, was telling me everything: You’re right. You can’t.

But then you just do.

As with most things - it's so unclear for a minute. You probe, explore, question, experience. You just keep doing it. And then there's clarity.

Everyday of MICI 2009 was packed full of experiences and discussions that were equally, if not more, shocking than the therapy lesson. Everything is going to happen, all the fucking time, so you might as well just show up and do the work. Anguish, loss, disappointment, amazing love, happiness, pride – it will all always be there. A commitment to the work is simply up to me.

So we left MICI. We made it, we packed up, and we headed to Kimi’s parent’s house somewhere in PA. Amanda and I in her red car. Reintegration Day wasn’t long enough and I found myself contemplating all the stuff and being barely there in the now, so deep was the affect of a week devoted to it. I was eating dinner. With Parents. Who were DEMOCRATS and I could barely be there to appreciate it. But really, MICI came at just the right time in my life. I wasn’t sure yet how the work would continue to surface in my life - not yet realizing that it always is – that it is my life – and now it’s my intended life’s work. The foggy becomes clear.

Because you just do.

Heading to MICI 2016 tomorrow is like I’m coming home to my family. The one that loves you intensely but doesn’t allow you to get away with off-the-rails behavior. I’m so fucking scared. I’m so excited. It’s going to be an immersion in accepting all the stuff, intensively, while just doing it. One of the biggest lessons learned when I lost my dad is how fiercely I love. How much I love my dad, my family, my Scott, Amanda + Kimi, The Architects, The Lovelies. I love this work as much as I love some humans. With all that fierce love, comes a lot of stuff – anguish, love, disappointment, happiness. All these people that you love so much and all of their stuff to probe and question and explore and experience.

So I’ll just keep doing the work.