There's nothing like home. Returning to that familiar place where you feel safest, where you know you belong. In my opinion home is the greatest location in the world.
I came home on Saturday. Just like I said I would, I walked through the doors of California Ballet once again. Despite the fact that I had many cringe worthy memories of my own doing there, I still thought I belonged in my own weird way. When I opened that door the first thing I saw was something that I'd witnessed countless times in the past. One of the studio doors open, Maxine sitting in her regular seat teaching a class, and the pianist waiting for the cue to start playing. It was comforting, but at the same time horrifying if that's possible.
I walked up to the front desk. A girl from my old class was standing there and literally shocked to see me. It was the strangest sensation in the world to talk to her normally, when no doubt we were both thinking of my former awkwardness. My old self threatened to haunt me, but I tried to push away what must have been her memories of me.
You've no idea how I felt after that ordeal passed. I never in a million years thought I would redeem myself in front of her. No matter how uncomfortable that was for me at least I could say she saw that I was doing just fine.
I entered the dressing room, which brought back a flood of memories. I knew the place from top to bottom, I used to spend every Monday night cleaning it in return for classes. It was exactly the way I remembered it. I ran into someone else from my class there who had the same surprised reaction at seeing me again.
As I took my place at the barre it didn't feel like one of those experiences where it seems like just yesterday you were there. Although it was very familiar and had many memories attached to it, I definitely felt the span of time that had gone by since my last visit at this barre. Then it was my turn for a shock. One of my teachers from the past came in. I read in the California Ballet newsletter that a new teacher took over all the adult classes, so this turn of events took me by complete surprise. I wasn't so sure she would be happy to see me. She was always telling me to pull up and only kept repeating herself because I never did. I die on the inside when I remember how I had made up my mind that I would never be able to follow through with that correction because I was to shy. She must have been frustrated. Imagine if you keep telling someone something to help them, and the person doesn't do what you advise. Who could blame her if she didn't like me? Or that she eventually gave up on me? I'm surprised she tried as long as she did. She remembered me, and I was tense for the first few minutes of barre.
As we progressed through each exercise and my muscles got warm I couldn't figure out what she was thinking. She did compliment me on a balance and I felt the tension lift a little. Finally it was time to stretch on the barre and she came over to talk to me. I told her how I was in college and I had taken classes at APA. “You look beautiful,” she told me before walking away. If I had died then, which I thought I might after that compliment I never expected to hear, I would have felt like I'd accomplished more than enough in life.
She went in the studio next door where Maxine was teaching. What could they have been talking about? Nothing about me right? Maxine poked her head in while we were still stretching. I couldn't believe I was seeing her again, but out of all the recently returning people and routines her face seemed the most regular to see. Maybe by now I was getting back in the swing of things.
The rest of the class was enjoyable. I even did a few nice triples that were unintentional. They just kind of flowed out, and it was then I felt the most joyful dancing since coming back to ballet. Things ended on good terms. I think my teacher was happy to see me, and I was happy to be there. I will continue to take the adult class there, glad for the chance to be home again.