Tuesday, August 25, 2015

(It's Not About the) Costume

On Thursday, I signed N. up for dance class.  She has been begging me to find a class for her for almost two years now, since we had to leave the "mommy and me" dance class we attended briefly when I returned to work.  She has collected hand-me-down tights and leotards and ballet slippers and tutus of all colors and persuasions, and can often be found flouncing around the house in one or the other of them, alternately performing something like "Waltz of the Flowers" and "Flashdance." When one of her friends' mothers wrote to me and offered to take N. to class along with her own daughter this year, I felt like the universe had just laid me a golden egg.

Truth be told, I'm excited about this, too. I have fond memories of my own dance school (when I'm not thinking about the clique of girls who terrorized me for being pudgy or awkward or bookish or not going to school in town), and this one is just like it: old school, no monitors to watch the class while you wait for your child, twice a year parent observations, black short-sleeved leotards and pink tights ONLY, please (of course, not in our hand-me-down pile), and seriousness about the study of the art.  I wish I could go, too; my body aches for that kind of movement sometimes.

My daughter is also excited.  I keep reminding her, because she really is a little fashionista sometimes, that it's not about the tutus, that it's really about the dance, about becoming an athlete, about learning a whole new language.  She seems to understand; I hope she understands.


For part of our honeymoon, my husband and I took a bike trip through Umbria.  The trip consisted of  a series of 30-40 mile rides through some spectacular countryside, with stops at wineries and fabulous restaurants, supported by a van that would bring you snacks and carry luggage (and you, if the need arose).  I remember being worried, upon our arrival in Perugia, that we were about to be upstaged by expert riders. That we weren't prepared for this.  And when I saw the other family get off the train with their own bikes with clip-on pedals, bags of gear, and their own personalized helmets, I nearly cried and gave up before we even got started.  But we pretty quickly realized that it was they who were outclassed; that they'd probably bought half of that stuff the week before their trip, which was why it was all so pristine.  By day two, one of the four were riding in the support van, one of them was biking alone miles behind us, and the two teenagers had lost the route (presumably on purpose, so they could make out with each other uninterrupted).

It was an important lesson, though one I find myself re-learning with embarrassing frequency.  It's not about the costume.


It goes for writing, too, doesn't it?  It doesn't matter if you have sharpened pencils, or if you've mastered the art of post promotion through social media.  It's not even about being published, or having been published.  The writers are the ones who are writing, practicing their craft.  What matters is that you put your fingers to the keyboard, and come as you are.

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  1. Ooh great post. I miss dance, too. One of the reasons I love my inner-city Y is that I can work out in ratty tanks and shorts (and fit in perfectly!). I really really want to try the barre studio downtown but I'd have to buy new workout clothes---seriously "no shorts", "no loose tops". I do not own yoga capris or fitted tanks. What should it matter? Can't I go make my legs feel like jelly in my old clothes as well as I could in fancy new ones?

  2. I love this. I was one who for so many years, cared more how others saw me than how I felt from the inside. This kept me too often from getting in the area, as Brene Brown says.

    Such a beautiful post.


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