How To Find What You Came Here For

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let's Dance!

My Personal Fantasy
When I was very little - about four - my mom enrolled me in dance classes.

I was excited about becoming a dancing princess.  My mom was excited about me developing some coordination.

We were both doomed to disappointment.
A significant number of my very early memories involve falling: falling down the basement stairs, falling out of my bed, falling off the front porch, falling from the top of the biggest slide in the playground, falling for no apparent reason at all except that gravity hated me.

My mom was starting to worry that I'd actually hurt myself sooner or later.  When she brought her concern to our family doctor (the week after I nearly severed my arm by sticking it through a plate glass door), he suggested either gymnastics or dance lessons.  One look at the apparatus in the gymnasium had my mom calling our local dance instructor.

I was so excited on the first night of class I could hardly be still - not that anyone would have noticed since being still wasn't part of my repertoire!  I bopped from foot to foot while my mom talked with the instructor.

"Mrs. Brown, my daughter is…well…a little clumsy."

"Don't worry, I've had plenty of experience with clumsy girls.  Dance will do wonders for her!"  The instructor spoke with all the confidence of a woman who'd never seen me fall out of my chair at dinner.

"I hope so."  My mom gave me a hug and hurried out to wait in the station wagon - mothers were not allowed in the basement dance studio.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first class, even though my shoes (the smallest the store carried) were several sizes too big.  Mrs. Brown recommended to my mom that I not wear shoes to class…at least until my feet grew a little.  She didn't mention the blonde girl with the ice bag pressed to a rapidly bruising eye - the one who'd been standing across the room when an enthusiastic kick had launched my shoe directly at her head.

I danced in bare feet for our second class, but my fellow princesses-in-training still gave me a wide berth.  Despite their caution, one girl went home with my hand print on her cheek as the result of a catastrophic loss of balance during a spin. 

"How is she doing, Mrs. Brown?" my mother asked warily - she'd seen the looks I was getting from the other students.

Mrs. Brown was struggling to maintain her confidence.  "She's making progress…she's trying very hard!"  She turned in time to see me tumble headfirst off the bench from where I'd been tying my shoes.  "No child is hopeless!" she declared.

My Personal Reality
A little wrinkle of doubt pleated my mom's forehead as we left the basement.

I could barely wait for the third night of class.  I raced for the stairs and before I realized what was happening, I was tumbling down them.  Experience had taught me to relax into the fall…unfortunately the three girls I took with me weren't as accustomed to bouncing down wooden stairs.  We landed in a tangle of arms and legs on the braided rug at the bottom of the stairs.

In the shocked silence that preceded the wails and sobs of the three casualties of my ongoing war with gravity, I heard Mrs. Brown call my mother's name.

A few days later I was bopping from foot to foot on the deck of a swimming pool while my mom spoke to the coach of the swim team, "My daughter's a little clumsy, Coach."



This post is a response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club to write about RHYTHM.  My lack of coordination (and rhythm) comes as no surprise to those who know me, love me, and make sure they aren't below me on the stairs.  In college, my friends had a game they called "Geri Tipping."  Although this sounds like a drinking game, no alcohol was actually involved - I simply have NO sense of balance at all!  Comments and crit are welcome as always!