These flowers represent the end of an era in my life, as well as the beginning of the adventure on which I have always yearned to embark.
Three years ago, I applied for a job as the youth recreational dance teacher at my local YMCA. After a couple of interviews, I was hired, and for three years, I have enjoyed my role as teacher, choreographer, and mentor to many endearing little girls. Last night, my students performed their dance recital, and I ended my tenure as leader of the dance program.
For the whole of my life, I have nurtured a love/hate relationship with dance. At an early age, I discovered that little girls get lots of attention–lots of validation–when they put on a pretty dress and twirl around gracefully. In my early years of dance, I took jazz and tap, and I remember dancing to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with a baseball tee, tights, and leg warmers as my costume. In the hallway of the local high school, where we performed, was an older girl dressed in a beautiful flowing tutu with a tiara perched atop her head. Surrounded by flashing cameras and doting family members, the girl beamed with pride. I was so envious of this girl and the adulation she received. I envied her beauty–her femininity–her poise. I declared immediately that I wanted to take ballet lessons from that point forward, and my parents enrolled me in a pre-professional ballet school the following Fall.
Years passed, and I devoted myself to tulle and ribbons, buns and blisters. I trained en pointe from the age of ten, and I competed aggressively for the top roles. By the time I was twelve, I was one of the top dancers in my school, and I regularly danced leading roles throughout the remainder of my school years. Talent issued from my limbs, and I desired the acclaim. Nevertheless, my ambition ruled me, and I suffered. I enjoyed a fierce rivalry with a peer, and I often found myself coming in second–which was absolutely intolerable! I persisted–with every intention of dancing professionally, which I believe I could have done, had I not self-sabotaged with an endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain (it’s called anorexia) and merciless self abhorrence at any and every misstep.
By the end of high school, I forfeited my dream, and I enrolled in college, receiving a B.A. in English Literature. I cycled back to dance and away a few more times–like any co-dependent victim of abuse is wont to do, and by the time I was 25, I hung up my pointe shoes once and for all. Or so I thought.
The posters were everywhere. And they were there for months before I finally mustered the nerve to apply for the dance teacher position. As a stay at home mother of two young children, I thought it would be a fun diversion, and I could actually contribute to our family finances. Dance courted me once more, and I willingly acquiesced.
In youth, my relationship with dance was dysfunctional, at best. In adulthood, it was sweet and gracious. The smiling little faces, the tight baby bear hugs, the pink skirts a flutter–all were salve to soothe my wounded soul. Nevertheless, the time has come for me to move on. My children are school age now, and my job requires me to be out of the house in the evenings–a time when school age children need their mother most. This year has been a challenge for my own children. The hustle, the bustle, of rushing home after a tiring school day, the pressure to complete homework in a limited amount of time, and the stress of emotional upheaval when it is time to pluck their worn out little brains out of tranquil repose so mom can go teach a dance class has become tedious and burdensome. My family needs a break.
I welcome this transition. I am ready to move on.
In my youth, I often dreamed–I am talking literally here–at night–during R.E.M. sleep–of performing such feats as ten revolutions from one pirouette preparation, and leaps as high as the balcony of a theater. Now, my (literal) dance dreams consist of my whining my way through barre and rushing out of class as soon as possible, skipping rehearsals, and feeling absolutely no regrets when forfeiting prized roles for lack of duty. My subconscious is telling me it is time to move on…
And so I am closing a volume, and I do not intend to reopen the cover.
What’s next? Foremost, I will be focusing on my family. Next after that, I write. I have a novel to complete. I have poems and music to explicate. Videos to make. Lots to keep me busy from here.