Thursday, March 13, 2008

So once upon a time, I went to school at UVSC. I had just come home from my year at Virginia Tech, and my great experience there had made me little jaded towards the University of Utah. UVSC was close to where my parents lived and to places that I could work. So, I enrolled and spent 3 lovely semesters at what I deemed "my cute little school where you never have to walk outside."

(I always have to tell a story within a story, so you know, bear with me!). While in Virginia, I had danced with one of the school's modern dance companies, and I had such a great experience, I figured I would do the same at UVSC. So I spent a year dancing with UVSC's Synergy Dance Company, which was one of the best years I had in college. I got to perform, choreograph, travel, and make some great friends and memories. When I think of my college years, the year I spent on Synergy is one of the highlights.

So, imagine my great surprise and delight when my niece Jacqui received a dance scholarship at UVSC. I told her that when she had a concert, she needed to invite me. So, last Thursday, I found myself driving to "my cute little school" to watch her dance.

It's funny to visit places that we once knew. Since I was late (typical!) I had to be creative in my choice of parking lots, so I ended up in a parking lot that was near where the dance rooms are (the same dance rooms I had spent countless hours in once upon a time). As I rushed by them, I thought of how similar and yet how unfamiliar it all was. The distance from the dance rooms to the theatre where Jacqui would perform was a lot farther than I had remembered. Had I really roamed these halls in my youth? Had the carpet always been green? What types of classrooms were housed in the new addition to the north of the dance rooms? Back then, the building ended there. I tried to call up a ghost of myself, but I couldn't find her.

Instead, the ghosts I saw were inspired by Jacqui. Jacqui danced in two "pieces," both choreographed by other students. I bided my time until the third piece and waited eagerly for her to come on stage. At first, the costumes, music, and movement disappointed me. But once I saw Jacqui, I lost all other senses. I sat there, on the second row of the Ragan Theatre and bawled my eyes out at how beautiful she was. Her movement was perfection; it radiated out of every limb. Her whole heart and soul were out there. As I searched in vain for a tissue to wipe my streaming eyes and nose, the ghosts I found were of Jacqui as a 5 year old, holding a yellow umbrella as she danced to "Singing in the Rain." I saw the ghost of the high school girl, performing her solo in dance competitions amongst hundreds of other young hopefuls. That she had matured into this beautiful, confident, radiant woman dancing on that familiar stage blew me out of my seat. I see Jacqui all the time at family dinners and celebrations, but I realized that I hadn't really seen her in years and I realized how grown up she had become. It was humbling and exhilarating all at once. Another one of my "little girls" has grown up.

After Jacqui's second piece (which was equally as beautiful) I went and found her and we chatted together until she had to go prepare for the final bows. Since I had come by myself and all her family and friends would come another night, I had her all to myself for a few precious minutes. Talking and laughing with her I realized again how much she has grown up. I also realized that even though I had come to see her in a space that I had once occupied, it wasn't about me. Even if I had danced with Synergy 11 years ago, even if I did perform on that same Ragan Theatre stage, even if the artistic director was someone I knew from way back when, it wasn't my former life I was visiting, it was Jacqui's current, living life.

The spaces we inhabit grow with us while we inhabit them, but when we leave, they move on. As much as we sometimes wish we could, you can't ever really go back. Either a new building will be in the place where once there was a parking lot, or they will change the carpet or the old teacher will die and a new one will take her place. Even our fondest memories cannot be resurrected. Our ghosts may whisper to us, but they won't gather themselves out of the dust and allow us to inhabit them. And, for as much as we treasure them, no one else will love them quite as much as we do.

I guess what this really boils down to is that my life today will one day be a memory. What things from today's life will I wish I could call up tomorrow? The sweetness of my three year old's laugh? The pride that Thomas feels at a perfect score on a spelling test? The nights spent on the porch in the summer, watching my plants sway in the breeze? If I can't call up my ghosts again, if their dust, once scattered, is gone, then I need to inhabit my life fully so that when I look back, they will be even sweeter than those I treasure from the days way back when.


Amy Sorensen said...

Wow...what a great post. I often find myself either assaulted by or searching for my ghosts, so this really struck me. It is easy to get caught up in remembering instead of living, and in feeling like everything worth remembering has already happened. Thanks for reminding me that's not true.

Oh, and geez...thanks for stopping by my house while you were so close! ;)

Amy Sorensen said...

ps, love the blog re-do!!!

Jeff & Kayci Bitton said...

What a great post! I know about the whole ghost thing...I felt that way when I would watch her concerts in high school. Thanks for reminding me that I need to live life right now so that I want to bring up those memories:) Love you!

Melanie said...

Love this post, and love the new look!