Posted by: Ingrid | September 8, 2008

Wandering into the past

 

Tomorrow I start ballet. For real this time, since with the 5 of us from the apartment signing up for the class I’m sure we’ll end up with enough people. It’s just an adult ballet class at the community center, but I’m excited and terrified and full of memories. My thoughts over the past few weeks nudge me to let me know that this feels like one of those moments where, by signing up for this class I’m doing something that will pull part of me, a younger part of me, up to the present.

I told myself that I would go back when I quit at fifteen. I never meant to stop for good, not after six years of hard work and begging my mom to take more classes, trying to afford the pointe shoes by doing my paper route, fighting against the fact that, aside from the fact that ballet gave me good posture, after a while my mom was not a fan. I just thought when I stopped that it would be a short break. I was tired of pretending to be sick or too busy so that I didn’t have to put on a leotard and scrutinize myself in the mirror. I thought with just a little time life would go back to normal, I would go back to normal, and everything would just be… okay.

Thirteen years and I’ve never been back (and I don’t know that life has ever been “normal”). I look at the ballet paperdoll that I created, with all its intricate costumes and details. I sometimes find in my packing and unpacking my old pointe shoes and leotards, and tufts of lamb’s wool. I think about dancing with my sister in the living room to the entire score of the Nutcracker. Sometimes I find notes that I wrote from my thirteen year old self to me at twenty-one. Did you make it? What roles have you had? Are you famous? Do you still love it as much as I do? I had no context for a world without ballet. I wanted it so badly, dreamed about it, hoped for it…

Looking at it objectively with thirteen years of perspective, it was probably good I quit. I was never fantastic, I’m not naturally flexible or competitive, my chest is too big, my legs are too short, my feet don’t arch enough and we never would have had enough money to sink into more lessons and shoes and everything else that goes with the ballet world.

But despite the rationality I feel like I left part of me back there, sort of waiting around and smiling apologetically on the sidelines. I took ballet, but not now…not yet… I’m going back, but not until things are different and life is perfect. Well, life isn’t perfect, but I am going back. Maybe I’ll roll my eyes at all of this in a few weeks and wonder what I ever saw in ballet. On the other hand, I want to go back, have to go back, if only because I left that little girl waiting there so many years ago with the promise that I would.

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