Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tutus and Toe Shoes: A Magpie Tale

When she was little, she dreamed of one day becoming a dancer.  She pictured herself in tutus and toe shoes.  But when her mother finally consented to dance lessons, the teacher said she had to begin with tap shoes.  Heavy, clunky, noisy tap shoes.  This was not her dream.  She struggled through, but the joy was not there.  And so the dream faded.  And the little girl grew.

Graceful, she was not.  Long limbs and flat feet made her awkward.  The doctor prescribed corrective shoes.  Awful, huge, size 9 gray shoes that tied.  Never the dainty Mary Janes that the pretty girls wore.  And so she faded into the background of the fourth grade.  

Eventually, saddle shoes became popular, much to the relief of the girl.  But by then, her feet were swollen to a size 10.  Where saddle shoes looked cute on the other girls, hers still looked monstrous.  Light on her feet, she was not.  The square dancing they did in gym class was sheer torture. 

By the time she reached college age, her feet hurt all the time.  So she went barefoot whenever possible.  Dancing became free form, undulating with the beat at rock concerts.   At last, with feet freed from restraining shoes, she moved with the rhythm of the music.  

Disco came and went without her noticing.  No attempt was made to learn the synchronized moves.  While the disco scene passed her by, her feet continued to grow to a size 11, then 12.

Her dreams eventually turned to the romanticism of ballroom dancing.  Gliding across the floor with the one you love would be the ultimate in perfection.  But this dream was kept a secret as her Birkenstocks shuffled across the floor of the house.  When she mentioned that it would be fun to take dancing lessons, her husband scoffed, looking at her as if she were crazed.  So she settled for the occasional contra dance outing with her cousin.  A few years later her ex-husband would delight in dancing at his wedding with his much younger, much more petite, new wife in her size six satin shoes.

Nowadays, she watches as the little girls she teaches trundle off to dance class in their tutus.   And she mourns the loss of her dancing dreams.

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Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers on a site called Magpie Tales.  A photo of an artifact is posted each week as a writing prompt.  Participants write a story or poem of its history and/or how the item in the photo came to be in their possession.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week.  You'll be glad you did!
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