My favorite ballet costume circa 1966. I was 6 and a half. A year or so from this photo I will become obese and quit dancing, because my teacher told me I would never medically qualify for toe shoes. At the time of this photo, dance moms were already remarking on how my legs were ‘too’ big for me to study ballet. My teachers loved my creativity and musicality, but it’s true, my shape made classical technique challenging. How I wish I knew about modern dance at that time!
Hmm, think I might go write a blog post on this while I’m chillin’ with my ice.
Two sides to memories
At the time I had this idea, I felt happy and excited to go find my ballerina photo. I LOVED to dance. It was one of my early passions. I still love to dance. I met Mark at square dance lessons, we ballroom dance and I even dance around the house while cleaning and singing to my cats. I’m the cat Beyoncé!
I have what I call the memory box. I toss photos, special cards, my old drivers license from Washington, my student ID from university, letters from my best friend who is now passed away, tickets from trips, old ribbons etc. This is the place for stuff I don’t want to toss, but don’t like to look at much. It is telling to me. You can see, brave companions, even from this random sample, that the memories I toss in the box are good and sad, painful and joyful, all mixed together without classification, rhyme or reason.
If it’s something from my past, I toss it in the box.
As we travel together, you and I, on this experiment where I talk or write about my feelings rather than stuffing down the chips, more and more of my feelings are coming to the surface. Random, weird, happy, sad, painful, embarrassing, moments of pride and love I’ve forgotten.
I have self-imposed amnesia.
It is true, I have much pain in my past. Much much pain. Enough that I would classify the entire first half of my life as something I don’t want to remember. But the memory box shows me that there are these other bits I push out with food and numbness.
My dad sitting me on his lap on our old boat to “let me steer” under the Narrows Bridge.
My many cats and dogs and ducks and geese and guinea pigs – all of them my friends and babies and sources of joyful fun.
My grandpa and grandma smiling while I blow out candles on my birthday cake.
My many trips to Disneyland with family, friends, old boyfriends etc. All different years and in each photo, I’m a different size.
Swimming in the Puget Sound, swimming in many motel pools, diving off our boat. I always loved the water. No matter my size, I felt free to move in water. Light, nimble, a mermaid of the deep.
Summer days at my grandma’s blueberry farm where I’d hurry to pick my 10 pounds of berries so we could rush to a lake to go swimming. We’d take two buckets while picking. In the morning you’d stand on one bucket to pick the top of the berry bushes, their size like small trees. In the heat of the afternoon, we’d turn it over and sit on the bucket to pick the underside of the bushes in the shade.
Blueberries pulled straight from the bush in warm August burst on your tongue like liquid light and explode with flavor that you cannot buy in stores. I never picked fast, but I picked very clean. My Grandma always said she could sell my bucket to the customers without having to put my haul through the berry sorting machine where leaves and unripe berries were removed.
I guess I was a perfectionist berry picker even then.
Today my search to find my inner dancer in the memory box was very painful. Both because I dug through items that remind me of the painful times, but also because I realized just how much of my life I’ve locked away out of reach.
Maybe the dancers I watch on the television, exploding with vibrant movement and freedom are using all of their emotions to create their moments. Maybe they too have darkness in their paths, but they are flying right now, tipping their wings toward the sun.
I’m thinking that part of my journey toward experiencing life instead of sleep walking through it numb, but safe, in the haze of food/diet/weight compulsion is to bravely look at each photo in this box. To remember. To regain my joy as well as my pain.
How about you, brave companions, when have you had YOUR moments? Do you also have a memory box? How do you deal with it?