Describe a First

I was looking at tips for creative writing recently and came across this as a method of explaining things, describing events etc.  Well, I was a dancer until I was 18. Hitting that triple threat – Ballet, Tap and Modern.  I went through it all.  I had bobby pins stabbed into my head, I had the horror of forgetting a dance half-way through (this happened all the time, normally during solos), I squeezed into leotards and tutus and wore tap shoes when screws had fallen out them.  I had an amazing time.  I hope one day to qualify and teach.  But this looks to be a more long term investment, that I really need to start getting more serious about.

Anyway, here is an account of my first pair of pointe shoes, it’s a combo of a touch of fiction and mostly fact. 

Gran spilt a latte. Which is so un-Gran-like because she is usually the most well together, organised and tidy person in the world. Of course she had copious numbers of napkins to clean up said latte and thus her Gran-like persona was restored almost instantaneously, but nonetheless, she spilt a latte. It was her first latte, and her last, as the experience had scarred to that extent.

We were in Bristol, me, my mum, Hannah and Gran to get my first pair of pointe shoes.  I was beyond nervous. Having been going to ballet for about 10 years, and gone through the ankle strengthening in preparation, I was definitely ready but still terrified. We’d driven two hours from home to get these pointe shoes, and I’d been prepared for what to expect, two of the girls already had theirs. I was to try on hundreds and hundreds of pink, off-pink and near pink shoes with a flat edge on the bottom, have to stand in first position, go up on my toes and asked how I felt. I’d also be issued with a pair of ‘ouch pouches’, potentially some lamb’s wool and maybe some toe separators.

So – after the latte incident, we went to the shop.  It was a small shop with a red door on the corner and a large white rimmed window. We went in and perused all of the shoes, ribbon, leotards and full range of Dance materials ballet girls and their relatives just go crazy about. Although not really because most of the stuff is so damn expensive. Anyway, we meet with a lady with curly-ish brown hair.  She is friendly and nice enough but there is something intimidating about her.  This is a fundamental trait of all ballet teachers and people in the dance world.  They are nice and friendly and they smile at you but there is something underlying that is utterly terrifying about them.  It was a trait I have been trying to develop every day since this one but have yet to conquer, because it’s great.

She puts the first pair on my feet, they feel horrendous and I look like a penguin in them.  My toes are scrunched and the shoe is so tight. “are they pinching?” she asks me. “Yes a little” I say, “well, that’s to be expected”. I stand in first, do a little plie and rise up onto the tips on my toes, my mother to this point thought I would be standing on literal blocks of wood and had been treating me like some sort of hero, this attitude was quickly altered when she saw the hardened canvas/cardboard combo and not wood on the ends of me feet. So the first pair was a no for reasons only the lady knew.  Settling in for the long haul I tried on the second pair, tilting them 45 degrees so that my big toe could get right to the end of them.  That was it. They were my pointe shoes; a pair of pink Bloch pointe shoes. And I loved them. The lady suggested we darn them so they lasted longer but my teacher had said not to bother as the studio floors weren’t the traditional wood of so many studios so they wouldn’t be scratched or full of splinters.

I kept those shoes for years. Even after I finished dancing somewhere  in my mum’s attic lie those shoes, ribbons torn to shreds, bottoms scratched and scuffed, a lighter shade of pink having been covered in camomile lotion to try and restore them to their former glory during a last minute panic about some exam.  I do miss my ballet days, and will never forget the shoes, the tights, the resin, the leotards, the satin; the ribbon, the hairspray, the glitter, the blood, the pain and I never would be able to considering I have a left hip that sometimes seizes up as a result of all of my years of hard work.  One day, I’ll return to teach – I’m sure of it; however until then I am happy to remember my first pointe shoes.

The Wannabe Writer

Every single time I sit down to search for jobs I end up here; writing the first sentence of a blog. I swim through endless administration jobs, “Be your own boss!”, I read one article about how someone somewhere managed to change their lives and can now do something they love or have always wanted to do full-time and then I’m here.

Sometimes I get as far as becoming a member on WordPress, even as far as creating a title for my blog but then, about two paragraphs down into my first post while I’m reeling off all of my thoughts, feelings, notions, anecdotes and tales of the world I stop, and I hit backspace, frantically.  As I complete each step of the process to getting started on a blog I have got started on 1…2…20 times before, I get more and more full of anxiety.  What if everyone hates it?  What if the people I know who happen upon this laugh at me? What if my mum judges me?

I feel like a fraud.

What qualifications or experiences have I got to share with the world that are unique or different? I am no expert on anything. I worry that no one will agree with me.  What if I have an unpopular opinion I can’t defend better than someone else can argue? We all want to be special, but most of us (me) want to do it by staying in line or keeping quiet and not really making too much of a fuss.  We want to be individual and unique just like everyone else that whenever we do step out of the norm we feel weird and vulnerable. Like someone might laugh at us.

This is definitely where I get to.

For me it’s with writing, perhaps for you it’s with wanting to post that picture of your abs, or putting on some blue eyeshadow or maybe you’re Billy Elliot and you just want to dance.

More and more recently, I’ve been thinking about the most influential people in the world and when it comes to writing their biographies or autobiographies, were they always doing influential, out of the box, different things? ‘Jimmy was selling shoes since he was born and now he’s Jimmy Choo’. Or one day did they just wake up and start?  If I’m ever going to be one of those people I need to wake up and start because thus far, it’s been a lot of ice cream, complaining and wondering.  If we look in the mirror and think we could be doing more than this, better than this, different than this, then why are we still looking at the bloody mirror? Why aren’t we doing it?  Why are we so scared?  I feel this way about meeting my neighbours, getting in shape, having a career and a million other things except I spend so long feeling this way or thinking this way and not actually doing it, that time is ticking by.

I recently moved abroad.  I’m a Brit  living in Downtown Toronto and everyday I’m here it becomes clearer and clearer that nobody is going to come and knock on my door and say ‘Lorna – you are just the person we’ve been looking for, come and change the world’.  Or, if you do this one job for now then one day you won’t have to do it because everything’ll work out and you’ll be in a dream job. (The inconvenient truth there is that I need a job to pay my bills like the rest of you, but still) Nope. That’s not going to happen either.  If I sit in my flat I’ll make friends here, right? Wrong! So unbelievably wrong, but it’s what I’ve been doing.

But I’m not doing it anymore.  I’m posting this blog-in-the-making. I’m getting in shape, hell I might even go and meet my neighbours. I begin this blog by telling you that the musings and writings here aren’t happening because I’m an expert on swimming (or anything), or because I have a message you need to know (you don’t).  I don’t really even know what the majority of this content is going to be about.  It might be a pile of creative writing, but if you’d like a guide to what might happen here; well, you’re probably looking at a bit of politics, and I’m pretty passionate about education, the gym, films, places to eat, globalisation and really anything else.

Honestly, I feel more nervous about this than I did about moving abroad.