Monday, June 22, 2009

The pink yoga mat

I saw her yoga mat the moment I stepped on the train. When I sat across from her, I noticed her youth, her too-long legs every which way on the seat. And then the girl next to me asked about the mat, and she said she was doing the Ballet West summer workshop, and she needed the mat for her pilates and yoga class this morning.

It was like stepping into the past. Once, more summers ago than I want to count, I did the Ballet West summer workshop. It was between my junior and senior year of high school, and my friend Rebecca and I were a few of the oldest dancers in the class. My hopes of learning from the awesome Ballet West staff were a little eclipsed by my shame of being in the lowest level, of being compared to 9 and 10 year old girls and 14 year old boys. I could, after all, drive, and they couldn't even stay out past midnight.

Ah, but what a summer. For 6 weeks, Rebecca and I experienced a freedom we could hardly imagine. The six hours a day that we spent dancing each day was secondary to living on our own near the university campus. We decided what we ate each night for dinner (usually soup). We decided if we wanted to make secret trips back to Provo to be with our friends (whom we called "the Provo Hippies"). We pretty much decided to have an incredible summer.

So, part of the significance of this incredibly young girl was that she represented a huge reminder of what I never was. I didn't weigh 112 pounds, like her. I never had a rich dad like this girl had, who was forking out over $2,000 for her to dance all summer (the year I did it, the workshop was less that $500, and part of my tuition I "earned" selling my sister's kittens. Sorry, Amy.) I wasn't asked by one of the Ballet West staff to audition for the workshop. As the two girls talked, I pretended to read, but I heard every word, and compared it to the 6 weeks I had spent there. I thought of the many young dancers I had known there who were just like this girl. In fact, one of the girls in ta higher level was John Denver's daughter. I wondered that I had ever rubbed shoulders with such talent and such privileged lives.

The other part was that she represented what I'm not anymore. Now, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't want to change a thing about who I am. I love my life, and I like being a grown-up and a mom. But as much as I realized my life was radically different from hers, I wished I could be her for just one day. To be young again and spending the bulk of my day doing something I was passionate about. To have that body again, and be able to use it. To have that fun summer again with my friends.

I found her asking me what I was studying. I answered that I was going to work, that I was a mom, and then just watched that sink in. "But you look so young!" she claimed. I watched her explaining her life in that way that young, eager-to-please, over-achieving girls explain things. I saw how alike we were, had I been 14 and innocent again.

But then, as the train reached the stop that would connect her to the university, I found myself being the mom, and not 14, and reminding her that she was at her train stop. I couldn't help it. I am the mom, and before I knew it, she was running to get off the train.

And in that moment, torn between both worlds, I was glad I was just me, the mom, heading off to work. I had my summer of fun, and it brought me to this day. I have the memories, and I can be okay with them being enough.


heidikins said...

This is absolutely beautifully written. I'm so full of memories of my own "good old, carefree, days" that I can hardly come up with a coherent sentence in response.

Great post.


Amy Sorensen said...

Like heidi said...great post. I know that ache so well, and I can say that when I settle back into my life, out of my headful of memories, I am a little bit disconsolate with my life.

Also, I did not know that was what my kittens went for. I am glad they were well-spent! ;)

Apryl said...

I thin you may need to re-file this, take it out of "Posts Where I Whine" and put in "I Am Awesome And Can Write Real Good".