I remember when I was a child and wanting to take dance classes, but my parents wouldn’t let me. Instead, I was forced into a wide range of intramural sports teams: from soccer to baseball as well as basketball, track and volleyball. I learned at a young age how to be the worst one on a team. I learned what it was like to be the last picked, to sit on the bench, to sit in outfield with my glove on my head and stare into space waiting for the snack break, hoping for those slices of oranges which were neatly wrapped in a plastic bag or gummy fruit snacks, the ones I normally was not allowed to have.
-Are you excited for your game tomorrow!?
-I don't want to go!
-It will be fun!
-I don't want to play.
-I don't know if I like baseball...
-But you get to see your friends!
-They aren't my friends! They all hate me! They say I am the worst on the team.
-Well, you're not.
-Yes, I am.
I remember when I finally was allowed to dance I signed up for a tap class. I was very excited to get there. I was maybe 12 or 13, but needed to sign up for a beginning class, only to find I am the oldest, much older, most students were around 6 or 7 years old and I was also the only male. I would stand in class an awkwardly disproportioned teenager still needing to know how to shave my face while hovering over kindergarteners prancing around in pink tutus.
Its 20 years later and I start dancing. It is 10 o’clock at night and I have had a beer. I told myself I wouldn’t be drinking, but I went out and needed something to get through it. They are out of town and I have the house to myself. I stand in my small office again with demonstration videos on how to do ballet. I watch the young girl with her blonde hair in a tight ponytail and black leotard explain how to point toes--so I point my toes. She tells me how to point them forward and backwards and to the side and I repeat. She tells me to bend my knees and I do so, but mine doesn’t look much like hers. She is more graceful and mine is more of an awkward squat. We do it again, and again, and each time I hope that my position becomes closer and that I can tilt and twist and pivot my body in the same manner that she does. It doesn’t look any better, but I keep on trying.
H asks me to send him photos of me shirtless. I causally stand in the mirror; take off my shirt and shoot. He tells me to try a little harder, the lighting isn’t flattering and I could probably take them from a better angle. I don’t know how to respond to that comment, but take them again anyway.
I wake up in the middle of the night and my ankles are sore from the pivots.
The next day I stand in the elevator on the way to work and practice pointing my left foot out to the left and then the right. I practice shifting into fifth position. The elevator is filled with people trying to get to the permit office. They don’t seem to notice my rehearsal.
I stand in the restroom in the large handicap and stretch my back leg using the handicap railing as a balancing bar. I want to feel flexible. I want to get better at this.
For a little while I am not thinking about him.