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Memories of That Song
The seventh grade end-of the-year chorus concert isn’t the place I want to be. Our chorus outfits are ridiculous looking and I hate them with a passion. The chorus program is huge and the hundreds of students cramming into one tiny chorus room before make it way too warm to be wearing a long-sleeved, floor-length skirted clown suit complete with a bright blue cummerbund and smashed rosette.
I enter the auditorium and sit down in my designated seat. After a performance by the sixth grade choir during which I can’t understand the words, the other seventh grade choir gets on stage. The accompanist starts playing a song that sounds vaguely familiar to me. “Oh they’re singing that song!” I hear the girl next to me whisper, and in an instant I know what they’re singing. I stifle a gasp.
The last time I heard this song I wasn’t sitting in the fifth row of my school auditorium, praying for a cold front inside of the school. The last time I heard the beginning of this song was a year ago. I stood backstage At Ebenezer United Methodist Church about to step gracefully on to stage. Instead of white-black-and-blue bruised penguin looking apparel, I wore a black leotard, a sheer flowing black skirt, pink tights, and pointe shoes. I was about to dance onto the stage and perform the ballet piece I had spent many hours learning and correcting.
This happened a whole year ago. So much has happened since then.
I remembered the way I stepped out to dance at the beginning of the song; I scanned the crowd for a face I knew I wouldn’t see. The face I looked for was my boyfriend’s. I had wanted him to see me dance, but plans fell through the cracks and he hadn’t been able to. Things were different with me and him back then. Back then, he was the typical sixth grade boyfriend who didn’t hold my hand or ever understand what I wanted to say so badly when I couldn’t form the words. Since then, so many times, he’s been the arms I’ve fallen into when it seems like the whole world doesn’t get it and he’s the only one who understands. We’ve come so far.
In the second verse of the song, I felt this longing as I danced, longing for summer nights, sunsets, pool parties, and fireworks. In my mind, paradise. But summer went by too fast that year. I reached out to touch it, and it was gone. I learned, though, that your whole life can’t be just summer nights. Then there’s nothing special about them. But after a long day’s work, a perfect sunset on a cool night after a hot day is one of the sweetest things in the world.
Then, the third verse of the song, when in the piece I danced to a year ago, a chorus joined the soloist and created a dazzling effect that almost always brought me to tears. I felt the tears well up in my eyes at that chorus concert just as easily as they had the year before. This brought me back to reality, to the chorus concert and away from the memories of my long last dance performance.
But as the last notes of the choir and the piano faded away on stage, I couldn’t help but remember another scene. The dance performance was over and my dance teacher stood on stage, “This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever been called to do…” she began. She proceeded to tell us that she was closing the dance studio--my dance studio, my home-away-from-home -- and moving to Richmond. Everyone was in tears, shocked. We left like lost sheep whose shepherd had vanished, unaware of what to do.
I was terribly upset. I loved dance and the devotions read at my Christian dance studio had brought me so close to God. But I’ve come so far since then; I still dance, still love God. So much has fallen into place.
I remember a quick prayer I said as I walked out of the church and into the rest of my life. Dear lord, please help me. I don’t know what to do, I still want to dance, I want to stay close to you. Please help me this next year to grow closer to you and grow as a dancer and a person. Amen.
I walked out of that church humming my pointe piece: “You Raise Me Up” by The Secret Garden.
Yes, lord. You raise me up. You did, you still do, and you will forever more.