Somehow I made it. And I danced. I paid rent. I bought groceries. I danced. I worked a second job. I went to music shows. I danced. I fell in love with Eric. I held a child in my womb. I danced. I had my heart-broken. I lost the child in my womb. I tried to join that baby in the great sleep of unknown. I awoke.
And then I danced no more.
‘What do you mean you are not going to the auditions?’
My mother stared at me from across the hotels multi-colored bedspreads adorned twin bed. I had begun to unpack my suitcase one article at a time when she made an audible note of my lack of point shoes in my belongings. We had met up in the city of Ashville in the state of North Carolina for me to audition for the ballet company there. My two-year contract with Seattle’s glowing ballet corps was nearing its end and I was on my yearly audition travel tour to see if anther company could offer a bigger, better and brighter potential. My mother loved North Carolina and I had shied away from visiting Florida since my exodus two years prior. We agreed to met here for a mini-vacation while I auditioned. My younger brother who had become a stranger to me these past few months would join us on the trip. One happy partial family; the three of us together. She picked me up in her rental car from the airport and I dozed off and on conveniently avoiding the conversation I would have to eventually have with her. The happy family checked into the hotel. The happy family settled into our room with its double beds and beige walls. We were the happy family until she noticed I had brought no tights, no leotards, no toe pads and no tie shoes. The happy family imploded when I hit the kill switch.
‘What are you talking about? We came here for you to audition. Are you kidding me? What do you mean you are done dancing?’
I expected a hurricane of emotions to slam into me as I stood soaked in betrayal and disappointment. I was her star. I was her shinning star so bright that she bragged about me. I could see her in the break room at the dentist office where she was a dental hygentist showing photos of her professional ballerina daughter to her dental assistants. Her hands aching from the chronic arthritis from the hours of time in painstaking percussion cleaning plaque off of pearly white smiles. She had spent a career of long hours with low appreciation to fund my development to be the brag worthy daughter twirling away on stage across the country. I took her dreams, I took her thankless commitment, I took her pride and I scorned it as I burned our house of potential to an ashy heap.
But my mother surprised me. She calmly and quietly led my brother and I to the car to continue on our tourist plans. We visited the grand and historical Biltmore Estate. A 250-room French Renaissance château built by George W. Vanderbilt, in the late 1880s on the perfect spot in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. I wandered the 8,000 acres with the headphones of a virtual tour playing elevator music laced historical facts of note in my ear. I avoided my mothers gaze as I immersed my imagination to daydream of downtown abbey with frills and petticoats.
We stumbled upon some easy hiking nature trails so foreign to our usual family hobbies. It was shaded and cool weather as my mom would ask my brother and I to stop every few steps in order for her to click a picture of us by a tree, on a rock, in this nature we found ourselves in. I still have copies of those photographs, my hair dyed its trademark fire-red in long braided pigtails laying on my comfortable black attire. I did not know then that my adult life when I was a wife and mother would end up spent days lost in the wilderness hiking the highest peaks; some above the elevation of 14,000. I also did not know then my younger brother who at one point in time was my Robin to my Batman, my peanut butter to my jelly would ignore my very existence without acknowledgment of reasons why. I was ignorant of so much in those photographs.
I can not imagine why my mother took us to those hiking trails to this day. We were not a family who enjoyed such activities. Fast forward to my own family now where our lives are spent in the company of fawns and marmots; my immediate family still enjoys theme parks to national parks just as they did long ago. I do not understand why we went to that place but it seemed to be the place we needed to be as the child I was suppose to be was laid to rest under the tree canopy as we marched along casualties of fall from grace. Lost and wandering, my mother finished the conversation started in that hotel room over missing pointe shoes.
‘I saw it coming. I knew you were done and I guess was waiting for you to know too. You are smart. You have photography. You can do a million other things. You did good. You did really good. You are good.’
She never looked at me. There was no hugging. She was a no touch person. As I understand my mother more, I can connect where a portion of my phobia of being touched first branched from. We did not hug as a family and kisses are foreign even on the cheeks. The words hung in the air as my younger brother grabbed my hand. He was one of the very few I have allowed to enter my personal bubble space in such audacity to touch without retaliation and without my permission first. And the three of us simply walked and we spoke not one word more about ballet and my retirement. When we settled back into the rental car to go back to the hotel the silence was a the warm embrace lacking from touch withheld.
The next day we loaded up the suitcases, checked out of the hotel and made our way back to the Asheville airport. After returning the rental car to say farewells as I would head to the emerald city in the Pacific Northwest while my brother she mother would head south to the city beautiful, we awkwardly exchanged safe travel hopes to each other. There was a gap in promises of reconciliation of togetherness since the future was such a blank slate of possibilities. I may even be home from Christmas this year I joked since the infamous ballet nutcracker would not be taking my priorities. My mother nodded and swallowed to avoid addressing the news that I was no longer pursuing my childhood progression.
‘Too soon’ she breathed. ‘Too soon’.
I nodded at my misstep with all the apologies I could not give that could not fix the sink hole swallowing us whole. I tried to say anything to make it better but before I could say a word my mothers voice sounded again to simply say I was good.
I was good my mother told me. No education. No career. No identity of who I was suppose to be anymore. Yet my mother said I was good.
I was good.