Adult Beginner

I filled out The Boy’s application for housing at the university today. Time to cut the apron strings and break his plate.

I’m vacillating between pride and tears. And I’m feeling a little sad that my child will be gone in a few short months, and my life will never be the same.

In my adult life, I’ve never not had someone to take care of, to fill my days. I’ve never lived alone, and it’s never actually been on my list of things to try.

I’m not freaking out yet. And, yes, I’ll be fine. I’ll adjust. It’s just… new. And I’m trying to get used to the idea.

 

Email Buddy Eric and his wife just sent off their oldest, and so empty nests were the focus of today’s discussion. He told me that I needed a hobby.

Because I still, like all Southern women, like to foster the illusion that I’m a lady and therefore effortlessly beautiful and graceful, I stopped myself before I told him that I do have a hobby. It’s called MAINTENANCE. Men have no idea what goes into all this.

So, I’m at the nail salon doing some maintenance this afternoon, and literally watching paint dry, when this breathtakingly beautiful, Michelle Pfeiffer but with bright green eyes, plops her Vuitton down next to my well-worn Coach bag and her BMW keys next to the keys to my beloved Volvo wagon. We smile at each other.

She looks down as she eases her feet under the nail dryer and remarks, “I don’t know how the polish on my toes lasts longer than the polish on my hands.”

I look down at her tiny little toes and am gratified to see that though her bag and her car are nicer, I’ve got the better feet. Yeah, I truly am a tremendous bitch.

I look back up at her, smile again, and say, “Well, you use your hands more.” Duh.

“Not really. I use my feet a lot. I practice ballet.”

My heart literally leaps in my chest and starts beating furiously. My nail dryer goes off, but I’ve stopped caring about my nails or even who has the better feet. “Ballet?”

“Yes, I audit a class at the community college.”

“Really?” I’m a little breathless and beginning to sound like a complete idiot, and we both recognize it.

I take a moment to compose myself and pull the rubber separators from my toes. Where did all this come from? I didn’t even realize I wanted to take ballet again.

“That’s just on a semester basis then.” I say.

“Well, yes,” she says back.

“I used to practice a little, but as soon as they told me I’d have to be in The Nutcracker with the rest of the school, I stopped. I’m just not a performer.”

“Where was this?”

“Oh, out of state,” I tell her. Then, trying to seem nonchalant, “So, do you know of any schools in the area that offer adult lessons?”

And she did and tells me where it is. And she tells me to tell the director she sent me. And I leave the nail salon and drive straight there without stopping at the grocery store to pick up the angel hair pasta I’d planned on making for dinner.

I park the Volvo and practically skip through the gate and down the path to the side door. I don’t even hesitate at the door, walking right into an office and glancing to my left to see an advanced class in session.

Women in mismatched leotards and tights up on pointe. Nary a tutu in sight. I see a bulletin board on the right and quickly check it out. Recitals, yes, but only for the child age classes. Woohoo!

I turn as a gray-haired man comes into the office. “Are you Frederick?”

“Yes.”

“Jane sent me.”

He knows Jane.

“I’d like to take classes, but it’s been so long I should probably just start over. Do you have any classes for adult beginners?”

“My dear,” he says taking one of my hands and holding it in two of his, “that’s all I teach.”

And I let out my breath and smile.

He tells me when to come. I can still make it out to the barn on my regular days, but there’s a conflict with my writing class. I tell him I can start the second week of May.

“That’s fine. Do you want to leave me your number or email address?”

I do. I write down all three numbers and two email addresses.

“Will you need any gear?” he asks.

I try to remember in which state I’d abandoned my ballet slippers.

“Well, yes,” I say, finally. “I think I’ll need everything.”

“That’s fine. How long has it been?”

I notice a woman in the class has stopped and is watching me with a kind smile on her face. I look back at Frederick and into his eyes to see if they hold judgment, but I only see reassurance.

“Forever,” I tell him. “But I’m a fast learner.”

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