I Walked In

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

As I walked in, I thought to myself: how many times in my life have I walked into a dance studio, tights rolled up to my calves, leotard on, dance bag slung over my shoulder? I walked in as a five-year-old, a new girl in a new town. I walked in when I was 10, to the same studio building but a new dancing school after my teacher retired. I walked in when I was 13, excited to see my three best friends after spending the whole school day away from them. I walked in when I was 17, knowing the clock was running out on dance as I knew it as I would soon be going off to college. I walked in when I was 26, newly back in my hometown.

I’ve walked in on happy days, excited to gossip with my best friends. I’ve walked in on sad days, after particularly hard times in middle school. I’ve walked in worried about a physics test, and I’ve walked in worried about finding a job. I’ve walked in as a Gingersnap, and I’ve walked in as Clara. 
And tonight, I walked in again, a 37-year-old mom of a toddler and a newborn, the leotard a little tighter, the nursing bra feeling strange and unwelcome underneath. But the fundamentals remained the same: leotard, tights, shoes, dance bag. And Anna. 

As I began my first demi pliĆ©, I looked in the mirror and saw how terrible my turnout is. As I went to hold arabesque, I realized how off my balance is. My turns were sub-par, my promenade shaky. 

And it felt great. 

When time came for grande jetes in zig zags across the floor, I barely made it off the ground and was particularly poor on my left side. So when we lined up to leap from the other side, I made a decision: no mirror, just dance. My jetes weren’t any higher or more graceful, but man, for one split second I was Clara again. 

As I drove away from dance tonight, I realized that for the first time in a very long time, I had just spent the last hour not worried about anything but my turnout and balance. I didn’t worry about Bert’s health. I didn’t worry about Hank’s development. I didn’t worry about our house or bills or appointments. For one whole hour, I was 17 again, doing what I loved, carrying the spirits of those I used to love to do it with. 

Dedicated to the best friends a girl could have at a time when best friends were all that mattered. The four of us: Catherine Daniel, Jenny Leidy, Kristin Williams, and Anna Lafferre. With love. 

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