Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pat's Alternate Universe No. 1: The Ballerina

I am a creature of eclectic interests, a dabbler in a variety of hobbies and creative  pursuits, a former traveler who now enjoys armchair adventures more than the real thing, and a strong believer in reinventing oneself and one's life at every opportunity.

When I daydream, I sometimes imagine what my life would have been like if I'd taken a different path somewhere along the way. Say, when I was a child and wanted to be a ballerina and my mom signed me up for tap dance lessons.

I didn't have my heart in tap, I was not very good at it, and the little girl next to me in line kept kicking me in the rear end as we tap-kicked our way across the stage during a recital. So there I was, an unhappy little tapper in shiny, short purple farmer overalls and a straw hat, clumping my way through Turkey in the Straw or some such routine when all I really wanted to do was point and touch, do a battement tendu, and arabesque, all in my white tights, tutu and crown.

I showed them. I quit.

Maybe, instead of being an unhappy little tapper who gave up after a few months, I should have said, "Mom, I don't like tap dancing so much, but I really would like to be a ballerina."

Imagine.

Okay, don't imagine. Stop laughing and let me have my moment. This is my alternate universe.

I am thin and graceful. I practice for hours and hours a day. I am a prima ballerina in a famous dance company, a ballerina so talented I bring teary audiences to their feet when I dance the part of Odette in Swan Lake.





But here's where my alternate universe stalls.

To accomplish a dream so huge, a person must become committed to the goal at an early age and never lose focus. The grueling routine; the whole body pain; the foot injuries; the loneliness because there's no time for people, no time for love. The commitment without guarantee. The risk of failure, of disappointment. All for the tiniest chance of becoming the best ballerina in the world, for becoming a star. Nothing is more important than the dream.

That's the part that doesn't sound so attractive. Besides, I've had chubby ankles and bad knees my whole life, I'm clumsy and fall down a lot, and....wow, I'm sabotaging my own alternate universe here.

So Pat's Alternate Universe No. 1 first requires a most convenient leap from being an unhappy tapper directly to successful ballerina with none of that impossible and painful stuff in between. After that, I need a recording of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, a quiet room, a rocking chair, a glass of wine, and a vivid imagination. The music begins. I am Odette.

20 comments:

Yvonne Lewis said...

Lovely to read Patricia, cheered me no end.

Yvonne.

Karen Walker said...

I think this is my favorite post of yours ever, Pat. It goes along with my magical thinking post from the other day. I ponder those same kinds of things. And you're right - it never includes the pain and suffering that goes along with working towards a dream.
Karen

Julie Luek said...

I loved this post too. In my alternate universe, I would be a singer, unafraid of being on stage in front of millions, crooning to the awe and admiration of people everywhere. Oprah and Ellen would interview me and I would be fascinating as well as talented. This post was fun-- I may have to run with the idea on my blog too.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Yvonne. When I think of how many different paths I could have taken over my many years, it boggles my mind.

Your kind words mean a lot, Karen. Now if I could only find a way to leap over the hard work and pain of being a writer, I could have this kind of joy in the here and now.

Julie, I'm definitely thinking of making this a regular, maybe monthly feature, on my blog and spreading the word to other bloggers to pick up the idea. I can come up with a dozen or more alternate universes for myself. It's the curse of having too many interests (and paths not taken).

Hmmm. I wonder if there's a novel in all this.

LD Masterson said...

Lovely post. You started me daydreaming a bit. In my alternate universe, I'm riding a beautiful horse, galloping across a grassy meadow, leaping over the occasion brook - which I can do easily because I'm such a skilled rider. In the current universe I never got beyond sitting on a slow moving trail horse, trying not to fall off.

Patricia Stoltey said...

LD, I want your alternate universe too. I always thought I should have been a cowboy...as well as a ballerina.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

I wanted to go to interior design school and nearly signed up for it. I also wanted to be a teacher. Both careers would have been awesome, but here I am, a writer, paying the bills with my journalistic skills at a newspaper. So I report on what others are doing, instead of doing it myself. Oh, well... Can't complain, really. But I like to daydream, too, and it was fun to read about your aspirations, Pat!

Michael Allan Mallory said...

"The stuff that dreams are made of." It's that ability to imagine being someone or something else that helps propel a writer into uncharted territory. (Maybe you would've been a dancing cowboy.)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Cindy. Yes, who would have thought? Wait until I tell you about the alternate universe where I'm an Olympic gold medalist. :D

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hey, Michael, thanks for coming by. Dancing cowboy...well, there was that one ballet scene in the musical Oklahoma...

Dean K Miller said...

Strange how I read your post and kept inserting "writer" where it read "ballenrina"...mostly cuz I don't look good in tights.

I should've told my parents I wanted to be a writer back in fourth grade.

Who knows what could've happened. Instead, I ended becoming a writer near mid-century, grateful I haven't been slaving at the keyboard for 40 years longer than I needed.

I'd pay a hefty sum just to see you dance once. ;-)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Dean, it would take a hefty sum indeed.

But just to really boggle your brain, I'll tell you I briefly belonged to a belly-dancing group when I was in my (less hefty) 30s and we performed at a couple of events...I enjoyed the dance but not the performing in public, so I quit that too.

Patricia Stoltey said...

P.S. It's quite possible I'll have this odd image of Dean in tights in my head all day...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can relate! Sure rock star sounds good, and music has always been a part of my life, but when I think of the lifestyle, the travel, the crowd of people staring at me... no thanks!

Rini K said...

Enjoyed the posts and comments! I think we should start a collection to see Pat dance (ballet or bellydance) :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Not to mention the groupies, Alex. At least most ballerinas don't have to worry about that.

Rini, my friend, I'm so sorry, but I twisted my knee on my last out-of-town trip and it's still bothering me too much to do ballet or bellydance...but I could stand in one place and perform some mean disco moves. How much of a collection are we talking about here?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I bet I can top your clumsiness. I can walk down a wide hallway and still manage to run into the wall at some point.

I wasn't serious enough about anything when I was younger. Sure I set goals of being an author and a professional photographer when I was 14, but I never did anything to pursue them until I was much older. Wonder where I would be now if I'd pursued them sooner?

Amy Jarecki said...

What a lovely story, Odette, and we can live our dreams through our stories!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Diane, that's a question I often asked myself about writing (and photography too as a matter of fact), but I chose real world work for real money instead. The image of the starving writer still living with her parents didn't appeal to me.

Thanks, Amy...I did add a cowboy and a little Texas Two Step to my short story in progress, but no swans dancing on their toes.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pat - I'd love to dance - all varieties .. but I can dream ... not often - but it's wonderful to be able to immerse the mind in a different world ...

I wonder what we'd all have done if we didn't have to earn our livings ... now you're exploring your passion ...

Cheers Hilary