stepping out dark shadow images of three young girls in dancing tutu's backstage waiting to dance
Learning the Hard Way

Stepping out

I am in a place in my life where everything is scary and done alone. Tonight I am heading into the dance lesson by myself. After will be a group social event.  Stepping out alone is very new to me.

My skin is crawling. I’m shaking. I want to leave. But I showered and shaved so in I go.  On goes the mask. On goes, the act.  This is comfortable for me.  What makes it the slightest bit easier is there is comfort in dance for me.  For as long as I could remember I wanted to dance.  I wanted lessons so badly that it became a daily request for my parents to enroll me in classes that were given in the cafeteria of my elementary school.  One year, for my birthday, my parents made it happen.

I started with ballet and tap classes.  I paid attention to every word, every note, every instruction.  I wasn’t the best in the class but I was good.  Shortly after I started lessons came the recitals.  Looking back I realize the expense this was for my parents but they again made it happen.  Costumes, shoes, and added time for rehearsals were a part of our daily, weekly, and monthly routine.

Eventually, after about three years I advance to “on point” ballet and finally got the toe shoes I had coveted.  As exciting as this was, it was painful.  I always had sore muscles from my classes and rehearsals, but this was actual pain.  I learned quickly the work and stamina and determination this was going to take.  There were four of us in this class.  One of the girls was very advanced and I wanted to dance like her in every way.   The day of the recital was probably the first time I knew what anxiety and cold stone fear felt like.  I did my part in the dance and when on point for the first time, noticed a weird feeling in my toes.  I continue to dance for the rest of the night. Recital finished, final bows were taken, I removed my point shoes to realize several of my toes were broken.  This was my reward, my flowers from the stage.  I was a dancer.

I would have danced forever and who knows where it would have lead me. Dancing and music made me feel free and expressive.  When I was 15 our house caught fire and everything was lost.  Stepping out on stage would have to be on hold for a while.  Like most things, when there is trama, you prioritize.  I knew my parents could no longer afford to support my dancing.  The stage went dark.

Tonight as I walk into this dance studio I am filled with excitement and anxiety.  The big room with mirrored walls had a familiar feel even if I knew no one else in the room.  This will be difficult, but at least I am stepping out to a familiar lost love.

Stepping out of my comfort zone.

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