It was a miserable day on a whole bunch of levels. Long lines, no answers, too many questions, whiny kid, making for a crabby, and well, miserable me. My toes were barefoot and freezing, which of course just added to my miserable state. I can’t think with cold toes. Can’t.
I fished round my sock drawer for a pair to warm my frozen digits. Not wanting to put on a pair a of knee socks, as it’s late and I dunno, putting on knee socks feels like the day is starting, and I’ll be wearing them all day, rather than, “phew, I’m going to sleep in an hour or two”, I found a pair of pink anklets buried in a corner, under my “boots’ tights” that have holes in them. Unraveling the socks I noticed there was puff paint going down the length of one side of each of the socks. I looked closer and remembered fondly (don’t know how I was able to think fondly of anything at that point, but I did), where I had gotten this particular pair.
It was the summer before 12th grade; I was in camp. My room was shared with a friend and fellow classmate. I looked at her seriously one night after I did my nightly crunches and jumping jacks, as the idea struck me,
“F, I’m going to be in dance this year.”
Naturally, she laughed. You would have too. I never danced, I was stiff as board by simcha dancing, and also, I sang – why did I have to dance? But I wasn’t deterred.
“I took karate in 8th grade,” I told her. “I can kick really high, and do all sorts of moves. I dance in my room.” She laughed again. And you would have too.
The high school I went to is known for their plays. Every part of it is perfection. Unlike most schools, students are not required to participate. They do not need you. If you have no talent, you could be in finale choir, but I remember them kicking out a few girls who sang off-key too loudly. They were not going to put me in dance because I asked nicely, or looked desperate.
My family all laughed, I was the singer, the who danced like I was in a body cast by my sister’s wedding two years earlier. My older sister was the dancer, I was almost encroaching on her role, and identity, by trying to claim the dancer title too.
But it was like a djuch in my head, I was going to be in dance that year. And I told everyone I was trying out. I don’t know why I didn’t think of self preservation, if things wouldn’t work out. I guess I was just so determined and sure that it would.
I remember the looks I got when I asked about try-outs, and showed up. They barely had try-outs for the 12th graders, at that point they knew who did what, try-outs were lip-service. And when they posted the list for re-tryouts and my name was there, I remember the disbelieving, scoffing, comments,
“You’re really gonna do this?”
“Oh, wow, 2yng2tch, you think you can dance?”
“12th grade, and you think you’ll discover a new talent?”
“Oh, wow, you made it this far, you think they’ll let you through cause you’re in 12th grade?”
I ignored them, which is really not my type of thing to do (outwardly yes, inwardly, no) and I don’t know what was possessing me.
And then they posted the final dance list. There were three: sharp, graceful and jumpy.
The sharp and graceful one had only 12 girls each, many of them, in 2 or more dances, and jumpy, had about 30 – they split the dance into two parts. I scanned the jumpy, assuming that’s where I had my biggest shot, but my name wasn’t there. I didn’t despair, because on the next oak-tag over was my name in big letter – for the graceful dance. I was in!
The next day, my friends circled my name and outlined it to be bolder, so everyone could see – yes, she had done it.
It was amazing, to re-identify myself, in my last year of high school. To try something that no one, including the rational part of my brain, thought I could do. I really loved, and learned a lot from the experience: about dance, and myself.
After the last performance (there were 6), and the last group hug, the heads gave each us a pair of pink anklets, personalized with puff-paint down one side, and Dance ’05 ROX on the other. And I don’t know why I still have these socks, why they’re not hole-ridden, or lost in some drawer in my parent’s house. But on a day like today, when I’m doubting myself, my abilities, parts of my identity, I’m gently reminded – You can teach an old dog new tricks, and there is always more to you, no matter what everyone else, especially the rational part of your brain, says.