I spent a couple hours Tuesday evening hanging out at the dance studio where I danced from age two and eventually taught. My mom’s physical therapist is just a quick walk away (I’m playing chauffeur) so I made good of my time, with a pretty long-overdue visit to the owners and friends who still teach there.
I stopped teaching / taking classes when I was 21 — I had reached a point where I decided I could no longer balance the same amount of extracurriculars I had in middle and high school on top of a full-time day job, night/weekend courses, and teaching (I was playing league soccer until 21, too).
Those were probably my most laziness-influenced decisions in life, and for the record had nothing to do with hitting legal drinking age. I was living in the same suburbia in which I grew up… with a car payment, a travel itch I liked to scratch, and a calendar that was looking more and more like hell. Looking back, it’s the start of a series of decisions that steadily untethered me from whatever had kept me in one place for so long.
The merits of involvement and overextension of the self were wearing off; these things would, in time, be detractors. I like what I’d done with my time since then.
They’ve been using those yellow and blue acrobatic mats since I was a baby. I mastered hand stands, back bends, walkovers, handsprings, aerials on those mats; watched peers break bones and sprain joints on those mats; learned to spot students on those mats; taught on those mats.
They have the same familiar musty vinyl smell as they have had since I first stepped foot onto them. I remember being small enough to lie down on a yellow or blue rectangle with my arms extended, unable to reach the ends. In time I grew tall enough to be as long as a rectangle from head to toe, and eventually I outgrew the rectangle altogether.
There I sat — as my friend taught acrobatics classes — feeling like a fumbling giant in a shrunken room, surrounded by dwarfed floor mats and miniature human beings who, up until recently, spoke in white noise and secret code.
Then and there, the boys heckled one another, the girls talked about tomorrow’s soccer practice and yesterday’s dance class and missing some audition / try out or another last week because mom got a new job and her schedule really sucks and I was home alone for an hour after school and I’m going to be late every Tuesday now.
There’s something new I’m tuning into these days; a frequency that once came across as pure static has found a clear station in my ears.