Maybe, someday.

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Ahhhh, spring cleaning.  I had no idea you would hurt me so much.

I’m having a moment.

Having tackled the master bedroom, the hall closets and the storage bins under the master bed, I braced myself for getting started on the catch all of stuff I don’t know what to do with…the guest room.  I still have moving boxes and have basically lined things up in the closet, under the bed, and a few boxes along the wall.  If you were to glance at it, you would think “oh, she’s so organized.”  Let me assure you that would be incorrect.

I worked my way through the room and finally found myself in front of the closet.  Wide eyed and gulping, I surmised the carnage and just started grabbing things.  Good bye extra printer that hasn’t worked in years and oh dear God, I still have that awful dress?  

And then I pulled a blue bag off the shelf.

My old dance bag.

A bag that used to be in my car all through high school, college, and beyond.  A bag that I put on a shelf when I was first diagnosed thinking “maybe, someday.”

I’ve mentioned running here before- I started running after college because it was fast, cheap, and I could do it with guys.  And I love it, yes I do.  

But I’ve danced since I was five years old.  I started with ballet with an amazing ballet instructor who trained with San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest, toured all over Europe, and then thought it would be lots of fun to settle in NC.  Still don’t understand that last part but man, am I glad she did.  I met her when I was five years old and have pictures of me and her from the week after my college graduation.  

I later took tap and jazz.  I danced in competitions, in pageants (as entertainment, not a contestant- my mom thought they were tacky), at school events, at church, at community events…you name it, I probably danced at it.  

In addition to my ballet teacher, I had two other teachers who were enormously influential.  One of them I still hear yelling at me when I want to give up- imagine a tiny blond women with a thick Southern accent screaming “BUCK UP.  DON’T YOU DARE STOP.  AND DON’T YOU DARE CRY.”  Even though I may have once referred to her as the Anti-Christ in front of her husband (oops), I credit her with teaching me how to work, how to be disciplined, and there are things to this day, RA related and not, that I don’t think I could’ve gotten through had I not known/experienced her.

Back to the bag…

I unzipped the bag for the first time in a long time and started pulling things out, lining everything up on the bed.

2 pairs of ballet slippers, 3 pairs of pointe shoes , three pairs of black taps, one pair of tan taps, black jazz taps (I remember being pissed that I had to buy these and not the Spectator ones I wanted), jazz boots…and  a knee brace.

It brought back a lot of memories.  I used to take all my heeled tap shoes to a shoe store near my parents house- the old man who worked there would fit a piece of rubber on the bottom to make them less slippery.  He would also put the metal heel reinforcements on them for me, something I learned I needed the hard (but hilarious) way.  Picture me breaking the heel off running through grass outside a performance venue.  LOL.  I used to cut the satin off the top of my pointe shoes- less slippery and they got so dirty anyways that from an aesthetic point of view, it didn’t matter.  The stain you see on the front of one of them?  That was from dipping them in water and then resin and then dancing on a super dirty floor.

That last pair barely got used.

And that knee brace….I wasn’t sure if I should laugh hysterically or cry hysterically over the fact that I had that thing on me at all times “just in case my knee got sore.”  Oh sweet Amanda of 6 years ago…there is so much you don’t know…bless your naive little heart.

It made me miss dancing all over again.  I’d love to take a class…but I’m terrified to.  I’m not terrified of hurting myself- don’t really care about that- but I’m terrified of not being able to finish the class.  Not being able to even finish something when it’s something that used to come so easily and used to be so self defining of me….I’m terrified what that would do to me.  Even doing it and feeling like I wasn’t doing it well…that would also be devastating.

So, I’ve been a little sad that there may very well never be a “maybe, someday” for me and dance.  

RA is so effing cruel.  

(Moment complete.)

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13 responses »

  1. ohhh I think you should keep dancing! You can modify it to your RA. I’m sure it would be a great feeling to do it again. I know it makes you sad when you look at items from your past..before RA..and how you have changed. Maybe you can try to do a little here and there in your home and see how you do before joining a class. Or maybe you could take classes and learn a different style of dance like ballroom?

    • I wish I could but with what RA has done to my feet, its not likely. I’ve thought about ballroom but you have to wear heels and even then, I’m not sure how it would work. I hadn’t thought about trying some at home- that’s something to look into!

    • I’ve actually choreographed a few things for my mom’s students (elem school teacher)- its funny and fun but not the same…I miss the challenge of it.

      • Not the same at all. Feeding the next generation is good, but nowhere close to what you’ve lost.

        I’ve been thinking about this, and have to apologize for not “getting it” the first time. Not being a dancer, I don’t relate to that particular activity. But I’ve recently lost something of my own that feels like a hole in my life, and it dawned on me that’s what you’re talking about with dancing. I’m so very very sorry.

        Without the hope that “maybe, someday” will come, a little piece of us dies. Hold on to the possibility.

  2. Oh, this one made me cry. I have a dance bag too. I keep it for “someday,” but I know it’s not likely that “someday” will ever come. The type of dance I did was Irish step dancing, which is very hard on the joints – all that banging, stomping, and leaping. I’ve tried to modify it but haven’t been able to do it in a way that feels satisfying to me – it just feels half-assed (pardon the language).

    Yes, RA is cruel!

    • Ohhh I love watching Irish dancing. I went to a folk dance festival recently and that looks like so much fun! You’re right though- the stomping and jumping is too much, any style you choose! Hopefully someday we’ll both get a chance to try it again…

  3. Hi Amanda

    In January I was dancing at a folkdancing festival in Australia (I’m from nz so this was a big trip!) By March I was diagnosed with RA. In between i’ve been watching my dancing getting harder and harder.

    Thank you so much for this post, the one thing I am really afraid of is putting away my dancing bag. I don’t mind the pain RA brings, but loosing the range of movement, to stretch my foot or plie feels like i am loosing my way of expressing myself. I’m determined to dance for as long as i can, and i have a wonderful ballet teacher who is willing to work at my pace and accommodate what i can do. Also i’ve discovered a new style, salsa, that is better for my knees and ankles, there’s no jumping! I couldn’t keep up with a class so i splashed out on a private lesson. It was exhausting but worth it to feel i’ve learnt something instead of getting worse every practice! seeing your post has made me brave enough to go to the social dance tonight. Thank you so much.

    (sorry for the long coment, I’d like to say more but i’m going to stop before i start crying.)

    P.S I love Irish dancing too, though i only ever did a little.

    • Good for you for keeping it up! I’d never thought about private lessons- I may look into that myself. I think the worst part of RA is that it has the capacity to take things away that are so self defining. I hope you get to feeling better and maybe someday we’ll ALL be dancing again!

      • yes being able to concentrate on what works for you instead trying to keep up with a class makes a big difference. I also had my first BALLET! lesson yesterday. It was painful, but worth it! and as i haven’t done ballet in a few years (i do mainly folk dancing) we found plenty i can work on that isn’t RA-related.

        You’re right about RA taking away defining parts of you. But don’t throw away your dancing bag. someday may be closer than you think 🙂

  4. There have been a few posts that have made me tear up lately, and this was one of them. No dance bag for me – just a metaphorical bag in my head full of “hey, that looks like fun… but I can’t do it.”

    Yes, RA is terribly cruel.

  5. WOW, this is my first time to your site! My first read made me cry, but I kept reading through the tears.
    Three years ago, next month, I was dancing my heart out at a graduation party. The next day, I thought I had broke my ankle. Two days later, it was my knees…and so on. Two months later, I was dx’d with severe RA.

    Dancing, cutting up, and having fun was my first name.
    Fast forward 3 years, I have isolated myself and do very little anymore. I have discovered fear… I did not even know existed in my being. I am afraid to make plans because I don’t know from one day to the next how RA will be treating me.
    I don’t need to say more, because we all know the story. I just wish we could explain to others exactly how hard this mean ole thing we call RA is.

    Thank you for your beautiful posts!

  6. Amanda, HOW did I miss through all 4 years of college that we share this same love for dance? Keep the dance bag; I still have mine, but not nearly as many shoes as you girl! Keep the positive attitude too. I’m rooting for you and thinking about you.

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