Ah, The Nutcracker. I wonder what that music, that Tchaikovsky score, feels like to "regular" people- non-dancing people. I wonder what it feels like to hear any part of it and not have the deeply memorized choreography come marching, leaping, tip-toeing to the front of your mind no matter where you are, no matter what else you may be doing. Holiday season is approaching. No place will be safe...
Picture, if you will, the inner thoughts of a thirty-one year old woman...
Oh, here I am! Finally away for some mommy shopping time alone. Wow, I think they must pump a special holiday version of their signature scent in here. Anthropologie, how I love to hate and hate to love you. I mean look at the pricetag on this sweat... AND UP, UP, TURN, UP, and travel, travel, travel, and pose...
Ulchh, that sucked. Who knew Chinese was now trendy, Anthro holiday music. Oh well, at least that one doesn't make me cry. Now for some coffee (at Fran's, natch. where else?). ooh. maybe I'll get a couple truffles while I'm at it. Whisky, an imperial, maybe a salted carame... MARCH 2,3,4,5,6,7,8. Chasse, chasse, chasse, POINT, BOW! GAH!!! Screw it, I'm out! Really, party scene???? REALLY!?
Well, now I need a real drink. Time for my favorite cocktail and a spot at the bar. "I'll have the St. Germaine/Gin thing. thanks." Oh good, they're playing emo Christmas music. perfect. I should be safe here. Oh, I wish I didn't hate Nutcracker so much. Or is it that I love it? I guess it is that I love it, and I hate the stage crew at PNB for ruining it for me (for ruining much more than just a little Tchaikovsky). I just can't listen to any of it without thinking about what has been lost. Parts I'll never dance again. Parts that I never danced as a professional. Parts that were my first glimpse of the life I wanted to throw myself towards. Nutcracker really is how it all started. I was cast at age 7 in a role that had me being the very first body on the stage. A little party girl on her way to Clara's house. It was only the Amarillo Civic Center Auditorium, but it might as well have been the Met or Radio City to me. I walked into the house for the first big cast meeting at the theater. The audience seats seemed to go on forever. I saw real scenery for the first time. SO BEAUTIFUL! I couldn't have imagined it. I could never have pictured it if anyone had tried to explain it. I can even remember the smell. The older girls all acted like it was all perfectly normal, and they were trying to act cool. But I just gawked, and gawked, and gawked. And the director used a microphone to talk to us. It was so magical. No matter what show from then on, I felt a little bit of that first time every time I walked into a theater where I'd be dancing. whew... better stop there, Jessica! You came in here to STOP thinking about dancing. Just be here. In this bar. In this new life that has nothing to do with what you set out for. This body you're sitting here in doesn't want to remember that it used to do all that other stuff. Now you're just "normal." That's why you're wearing these 28s. You are normal now. Blah. Quit thinking about that stuff. Ah, cute. They're showing "A Christmas Story" on NBC. Haha... oh, commercial... NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Freaking Nutcracker!! Get out of my life!! YES. WE KNOW. Pacific Northwest Ballet does The Nutcracker. EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS!!!! "CHECK, please!" Drink. Slam.
That PNB Nutcracker is SO weird. I'm glad I got to do it, but man is it different. I'm glad Peter is taking PNB to the Balanchine version. Good riddance. I did love that PNB snow scene, though. And flowers. Probably one of the most beautiful waltzes ever. Oh, that choreography felt so good... well, when you could breathe. "Puffy." It was "puffy," we'd say. That meant we couldn't breathe! It was so flowy and gorgeous though. And it made you feel like you were really, really dancing. I could use all my Texan smiley face too. Flowers was so happy and generous. I remember the last time I danced "company" flowers. It was a dress rehearsal. Three different teachers found me afterward to tell me how different I looked, how beautiful. How they noticed me, and were so excited for me. I'd give anything short of my children to get ahold of that videotape. It was the performance of my life, and I didn't even know it. Well, maybe I did. I knew I looked good that night. I knew I was dancing the best I ever had. I had every reason in the world to hope, especially after those people all pulled me aside. One was nice, but three? Yes, it was all starting to happen. But then, the next day, it wasn't. That's when ALL the shit hit the fan. No one else knew, but I think I knew right then. Up there in the dressing room after the accident, I think I knew things were going terribly wrong. That's why I cried so hard. That's why I cried so hard for months. OY! Stupid Nutcracker! I'm supposed to be shopping. Well, screw that. I'm going home to hug my children.
At least I know. No one else really knows just how awful it feels. But, I do, and I'm one of the most understanding, empathetic people I know. What would I say to me? I'd say: "You WERE beautiful that night. Just know it. Just believe that those three people and whoever else saw you were given a gift to see you that night. Believe that the ballet world missed out, and so did you. You would've worked your way up. Maybe at PNB. Definitely somewhere. You would have kept loving every time you walked in and saw the scenery. That smell. That marley floor warmed up by lights would still be your favorite place. It's ok that it is even now. I'm so sorry you never get to go there. I'm so, so sorry it can never, ever be the same. I'm so glad your back doesn't hurt anymore like it did for so, so long, but I'm so sad that your heart probably will never heal. People don't get it. They can't. But we do. I'm so sorry that Ballet Jessica died. I'm sorry people try to tell you that she didn't. She did. She was wonderful, and I know why you liked her so, so much. She's gone. That's the thing about being a dancer. You can only be a dancer if you can dance. and you can't. and you don't. Try, though; try to understand that that soul, the Ballet Jessica soul, didn't die. It's in yours. You, the non-dancing Jessica, you have all that stuff in there still. But it will essentially be continually stifled. There are ways to use it. Having that ballerina trapped in there is great in some ways! It's special knowledge. She comes with a special kind of artistic sensibility and determination, and you can do your best to apply that in your life. But, you won't ever be your full, full self this side of Glory. Just like Ballet Jessica wasn't your full self either. After all- she never was a wife. Never gave birth. Never was a doula. Never got a degree. But she did dance. And she danced The Nutcracker A LOT, so Christmas time will always have a little bit of SUCK to it."
Yep, it sure will.
Incarnation, though. That does have something to do with it, doesn't it? God put on a body that felt all kinds of weird. It was limiting. It was frustrating. It hurt. And he did that so that he would be perfect for the job. "Job" is insulting. The Quest. The Mission. The Project. The Only Hope. A perfect son, he had to suffer. He knows. I know. Dead Ballet Jessica knows. and He knows. What would I do if he didn't know? He's the only one who can do anything about it.
Did that bus just have an effing Nutcracker poster....
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Yesterday we spent a lot of time in Lower Queen Anne near the Space Needle, the opera house, the ballet, etc., so I was lost in nostalgia most of the day- slamming back and forth between laughter and resisting a flood of tears. On our last drive by the ballet, I succumbed to tears. Ezra said, "If you miss it so much, why did you leave?"
I let Brendan tell the story to the kids. He did a great job (as he would, of course. He was there). It was nice to hear what he chose to communicate, which parts he chose to highlight. In light of us having a 6 year old who is struggling with perseverance, we both highlighted the hard work and years of practice required of me. To emphasize my improvements thanks to practice, I told them the story of how the first time I ever auditioned for PNBS, I did not get in.
Years after that gawky audition, I worked in administration for the school and discovered (with permission and prompting from other staff members) the notes from my audition. I think it said, "ft, t-o, ext..." which are all good things I'll leave to be deciphered by those of you in the know, but it also said, and I really do quote, "weird." We all had a great laugh over that in the office, and it never hurt my feelings because I'm sure I was weird! I didn't know much about the big, wide, ballet world. I'm sure my ettiquette wasn't quite right, and I remember being out of mind nervous. As we say in Texas, I was a greenhorn.
Back in the car last night, all I said to the kids was, "They didn't let me in the first time because I was weird." "Why did they think you were weird?"- Hazel or Ivo said. "I don't know. They meant that something about my dancing wasn't right yet." "OR," said Ezra, "maybe they just said that because you ARE weird."
Yep. Maybe so.