Polly's Tango Talk

August 2, 2014

Subconscious Tango

Filed under: Uncategorized — tangopolly @ 5:47 pm

I’ve been involved in Portland’s tango events since they began in 1996 and before that coordinated a community festival for 17 years in the small town I lived in that drew 10,000 attendees. High energy weekends have been a significant part of my life for many years, so “festival fatigue” was not a factor in this story.

In October 2013 during TangoFest, my friend Kara stayed with me, was going to leave on Sunday but accepted my invitation to stay for the last day of the festival.

During the event I was particularly tired, no energy, and even “hid” at times to avoid interaction that would require mental or physical activity. The rest of the team was handling everything well and except for DJing for the two Guided Practicas, co-hosting the Grande Ball on Saturday night, and presenting my usual short skit, (this one was “TangoJest”) I stayed in the background as much as possible.

At 2 am Sunday morning I un-decorated the tables in the lounge, and took a cab home. Kara arrived shortly after. I remember her coming in, but nothing after that. She told me later that she’d asked if I was ok. She says I mumbled that I was fine and she says that at 4am, I went to the computer and started typing. Then back to the couch, sitting slumped over, which is where I still was later Sunday morning when she left  to go to the festival.

The next thing I remember is hearing her knock on the door, about 2.am. Monday. Hmmm, I was not able to stand up. I gripped whatever I could hold on to to get my balance, stumbled back to the couch and re-assumed my slumped-over, sitting position. (Kara had already gone into the bedroom and did not see this fiasco.) After she got dressed, she asked again if I was ok. (I hadn’t moved since she’d left the day before and convinced her (I thought) that I was fine.) She left about 11:30, stopped for coffee, turned around and came back because “something didn’t feel right.”

When she saw I still hadn’t moved, she called my daughter (using my phone to get the number). Stevanie came over and I answered her questions, but didn’t fake her out. She called 911. When the EMTs saw my condition and that my fingertips were blue, they whisked me away in one of those rigs we never want to ride in.  (They asked Stevanie if I might be drunk. She said “No, not like her.”  And one was overheard to say, “Good thing they called us when they did.” Yikes.

Six hours in emergency. Recovery sleep. ICU with all fours tethered to the bed and a breathing tube down my throat.  Tuesday afternoon tube removed (yanked,  more accurately). Regular room Wednesday, released Saturday. Culprits: Pneumonia, respiratory failure, lung infection of unknown origin, and breathing my own CO2 on the couch for 30 hours.

In my haze, unbelievable! Tango music! Same song. Over and over and over. In Spanish. One I recognized but do not know the name of, played non-stop. Clear as a bell. Eyes open/closed…no matter. I loved hearing it. Couldn’t hum it now but for a few days and nights it was my inner (and I thought, outer) companion extraordinaire.

When Stevanie returned I squeaked in an a hope-this-is-temporary scratchy voice, “Honey, listen! They’re playing tango music.” She listened, then shook her head gently and said, “I don’t hear it.” “Check in the hall. It must be coming from out there.” (I had begun to think someone had brought a CD and asked the nurses to play it. Why it would only have one song on it was not yet within my realm of reasoning.)

She said, “Nope, no tango music.” It had to be there. I was hearing it, clearly, and asked her to check again. (When your brain is fuzzy, you’re ecstatic to be among the living, and you’re hearing music that inspires when you’re fully coherent, your mind does strange things, apparently.) My daughter-turned-mother-to-mom returned and said, “No, Mom, really, there’s no tango music. There’s an alarm going off somewhere down the hall that’s about the same tempo as a tango,  but no music.” (I crack up every time I think about her saying the alarm was dinging at “about the same tempo as a tango.” (Dark yet delightful humor if ever there was.) I figured best to not argue. She was mobile. I was barely able to position myself on pillows under warmed blankets. So I resignedly accepted her observation, did not fully believe it, and later retreated to my silent-to-all-others-tune and let it lull me in and out of la-la land. Little-known fact: a semi and recently comatose person can conjure up things that are imperceptible to others.)

If ever I hear that song at a milonga, I will race to the DJ and ask for the title, orchestra and vocalist. It resides in a special corner of my subconscious as a vivid example of how deeply tango can become embedded within our being and comfort us in time of need.

1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on tangogeoff's Blog.

    Comment by tangogeoff — August 2, 2014 @ 8:51 pm

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