Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dancing with heartache

Tonight I watched the first year musical theatre students at Sheridan perform Glee Live! They were awesome. It took me back to the days when I watched Fame, a million years ago, and to before that, when I was as young as the students on the stage, and as fiercely passionate and ambitious. I remember being that vulnerable and that brave.

I remember the feeling when I opened the envelope, the wrong envelope at the wrong time to be good news. I had worked for four years to do my university proud by winning a particular scholarship. It was a tradition for their top students in English - and I was, without any doubt, their top student. I owed it to me and to the university of which I was as proud as you can be at twenty. And the envelope held a letter that said I would not win the scholarship because one of the required nomination forms had been missing from my application. The hole in my stomach was so large that it stretched into my lungs and made it hard to breathe. The world became strangely far away, distant from my ears and eyes. I would do the research, discover that a prof I respected had simply picked up my paper with some others and filed it away, thinking it had been safely mailed. A little mistake. The end of a dream.

And the tears started. Lots of them. And trembling, and the knowledge I would have to explain to my mother what had happened. I knew my fierce and loving mother would be so angry that this had happened to me, that it would be hard to bear her feelings and my own. I was overwhelmed. Nothing so unfair had ever happened to me, especially not at school. University was the place I found myself at home, the place I excelled as naturally as breathing. It wasn't as safe as I thought. And, at that moment, I didn't know that other scholarships would come through, and I would be a teaching assistant, and life would shift again. At that moment, I didn't know.

So, I went dancing.

I don't know if that's where the pattern started, but I know I made the choice that night to go out where the music was loud, and probably bad, and have a drink or two, and dance and show the world that I might have been knocked down, and I might wake up crying the next morning, but I was going to deliberately open myself up to the chaos and the noise and celebrate anyway.

That's where I remember it beginning, the urge to meet disaster with some symbolic celebration, some deliberate affirmation that I could keep moving.

And tonight I found myself in the theatre at Sheridan, listening to them perform the Time Warp and remembering dancing it myself, a long, long time ago.

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