My young dream was to be a performer or an athlete. I also said I wanted to be a writer. I know because I wrote all this down on a slip of paper that recently emerged while rifling through child-things at my great aunt’s house.
I also know it because I remember all the energy I used to put into performing. I wrote–short fictional stories–but not very often. I had too much movement in my body.
I’d acquired at least a little bit of skill and grace from the few years of ballet, jazz and acrobatics I took at the Dance Art Studio in Crescent City. And when I had an audience, boy-howdy I put on a show. My family called it “tumbling” but I’ve watched the home videos and what I was doing was acrobatic ballet: cart-wheel, round-off, pose, cart-wheel, round-off, pose.
I practically lived in a long-sleeve pink leotard and dreamed of owning sweats, leg warmers and new ballet shoes like the other girls. I’d carry it all in the “Twinkle Toes” ballet bag I saw on display at the Dance Art Studio. It cost thirty-five dollars. Which was even more money back in 1996.
I watched gymnastics on TV whenever I had the opportunity and thought for certain I was just a few lessons away from a double back layout and a spot on the floor at the Olympics.
Clearly I wasn’t, but once in acrobatics class when were learning back tucks (which is a back flip with no hands) my instructor was spotting me so I gave it my all. Seconds later when I was upright my teacher said “You just did it. I didn’t even touch you. You did it all on your own,” which drew the attention of the whole class, not because a back tuck hadn’t been done before, it had, but because I’d only been in acrobatics for a year or less (and just once a week)–the other girls had been going to the Dance Art Studio since infancy.
All I got from the girls was a long glance. No pat on the back.
In the upcoming months I would begin to wonder why my crotch smelt funny as we stretched and get self-conscious over my dirty socks.
I stopped going to dance, which no one in my family protested or gently encouraged me otherwise. I’ve always been able to do as I please. Just as I please.
I cut my hair and half-heartedly took up basketball, poetry and boys.
I’m kicking myself now because I was darn good. I’d nearly nailed my back hand spring with no spotter, I had a stage smile and good balance. And now I know that crotches just smell funny sometimes. Especially after excercise.
I could’ve really been something.
4 thoughts on “Young Dreams”
A wonderful post. I really enjoyed the story. How many childhood dreams do come true? How many dare to dream big enough? Perhaps we make a trade-off with dreams. Not the dancer but certainly the writer. I have no doubt you will go farther than you ever imagined. 🙂
That is incredibly nice of you to say. Thank you. Now, what did you want to be? A traveler?
What are you anyway?
You know what I mean 😉
I say dare to dream.
Lack of support from peers or family is a crime. Kids should be encouraged to pursue dreams, especially ones backed up with talent, but so many aren’t. I’m sorry you stopped gymnastics.
Thanks for understanding–a big part of me feels this exact way.