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The Lucky One

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My friends sleep at ten, eleven pm by choice. They stay up late watching TV or chatting on Facebook, sometimes even spending hours glued to a computer screen. I haven’t had that sort of time in years. My day starts at six every morning. I wake up, take a shower, and change into sweats. In the half-asleep stupor I am usually in, this takes me around thirty minutes. I spend the next half hour doing something for my dancing. Oftentimes this simply means that I will stretch, other times I will put on my pointe shoes and work on strengthening my feet and ankles, or I will practice show routines that I haven’t quite yet grasped. Whatever it is, I have to be done, changed, and down stairs by a quarter past seven. I eat breakfast, and head to school by seven forty. School ends at two forty-five. Usually I go straight to dance classes, which continue to between six and seven thirty. If it is on the earlier side, I may take another shower to soothe my aching muscles. After dinner, it’s always time for homework. On a good day I can finish by ten, about once a week not until eleven. Then I sleep, exhausted, until my alarm clock jerks me awake the next morning.

Perhaps, then, it is no wonder that those same friends call me crazy, telling me that I ‘have no life,’ because to them, I am putting myself through this for no reason at all.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

When I soar across the floor in one perfect moment, everything is suddenly worth the trouble. In those few minutes, I live. The thrill as you lead up to a grande jete. The rush of air as you pirouette, balanced on the tip of one toe. The beauty and calm as you hold a stunning arabesque. These are the moments that I live for, the times when I feel myself. Dance is what makes me, me. Without it, I’m not sure who I am.

In dance, I am no one but myself. In truth, schoolwork has always been the easy part for me. Dance was different. When I started, age eight, with no other training than a few children’s classes at a sports center, I was awful. No doubt my teachers saw nothing in me, as I had absolutely no conception of posture or line, no idea why doing something one way looked nicer than doing it in another. Yet even then, ballet class made me come alive.

When I tell them this, most people just shake their heads at me in confusion and demand why. I have never been able to tell them, and I don’t believe I ever will. How do you tell someone of the joy of finally executing correctly that one step you’ve been working at for weeks, if they have never done so themselves? How do you explain that feeling of inexplicable bliss as you’re working so hard you think you can’t take another step but still do? For how do you explain to a person who only lives to do what others tell them the true happiness of freedom that only lasts in expression?

At this point my endeavors to explain usually drive people away, but I refuse to let myself care. Somewhere, tucked deep inside me, in the furthest recess of my heart, I know that I am the lucky one. Sometimes, people too ignorant to understand speak bitter words that sting even through the knowledge. Though I always shake it off as quickly as I can, it can be harder than I ever imagined. Sometimes, after a particularly hard day at the studio, a whisper sneaks into my mind that tells me I am worthless, asks me why I can’t turn as many revolutions as she can, demands why I can’t lift my leg as high as her. Then another voice, a weaker one that has to fight to be heard, reminds me of how far I’ve come, tells me to remember a certain little girl who didn’t care. This voice always wins, because if don’t keep my dancing near my heart, I’ll be exactly like all those other people who exist only to obey orders, not living, not feeling. And that’s not a future I ever wanted. I stand to show the world what I am made of, what I can do. I stand to say, “This is who I am,” and be proud of it—because I am a dancer.



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LoveMeIfYouDare said...
Jun. 8, 2011 at 6:33 am
You just ripped my diary from my hands and heart and wrote it down.
 
AddieDay replied...
Jul. 4, 2011 at 11:41 pm
I'm sorry? I don't know what to say...
 
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