August 19, 2014
I’ve just reconnected with my dear friend Russ from 42 years ago. Little did he know what a gift he gave to me today.
My mother would have been 86 today, and I wish she were alive to see these old photos of me dancing my heart out with abandon, especially since I was ballet-trained and normally very disciplined. (These photos are stills taken from a very old film.)
She loved my dancing, supported and encouraged me, and she was there when I fell from grace.
Russ sent me a link to a dance recital from high school back in 1972. Memories of that night flooded back to me. Dance was my life, my breath, my soul. I went professional for one year before realizing the competition was too stiff and the pain too great. I came home from New York a little bit broken, but I knew I had made the right decision to quit. I continued dancing for years and now wonder why I don’t anymore.
Memories fade, what the body could do fades, the desire fades. After enough years, even the belief that one could do this—actually did do this—fades. I never felt good enough, always feared that I wouldn’t live up to expectations, knew that I didn’t have what it took to be a real dancer. Sometimes I wonder if it happened at all, was this person truly me?
I have photographs of my “dance career”, but even they seem unreal, posed, photos in frames on the wall that became wallpaper that no one ever looked at anymore.
But seeing an actual film of myself dancing with movement, soul, grace, and (gulp, dare I say it?) some talent, I knew it was me and it was real. We can never go back to another time, the past is the past, it’s over and done. I’ll never be that young, lithe body again, I’ll never feel on top of the world again, dancing with such freedom or suspended en pointe holding an arabesque for endless seconds. That chapter is closed.
And yet. Russ, you gave me back a part of my life today and made it live again inside of me. I can say with all honesty that I’m filled with joy for what had been. Seeing that chapter open for one moment has allowed me to close it once and for all without regrets. I am truly grateful for this gift of my past life, which I can now reintegrate into my present life emotionally, if not physically.
Mom, this is my gift to you today. You did well with your love, and these small moments are a tribute to you. Miss you so much.