I am hurrying to meet my friend Aliza. She called me yesterday.
“Hi Sofie! It’s Aliza.”
“ALIZAAAA! Are you in town?”
“Only for a few days.”
“Let’s meet and catch up on all the news.”
“I have a couple of tickets for a classical concert tomorrow. Want to come.”
“See you at seven in front of the theater.”
Aliza and I are childhood friends. We grew up together and went to the same school. We started ballet classes at the age of three and later on trained together. But our choices separated us. She continued her dance career; I chose to start a family.
I am running late, as usual. I see her waiting by the door and wave. She waves back.
I hug her and say:
“Aliza! I am so happy to see you. You look great!”
“You! are positively glowing. Pregnancy suits you. Let’s go in. The concert is about to begin.”
We rush in and take our seats as the lights start to dim. Two beautiful grand pianos grace the stage. A famous concert pianist and his student are going to play together. I glance at the program. They are going to start with Prokofiev’s Cinderella. As the music starts, I close my eyes, sit motionless and relive the ballet:
Cinderella sweeping the floor and dreaming, the ridiculous stepsisters trying to learn to dance while Cinderella watches from the corner and learn the steps, the fairy godmother, the waltz with the prince and then the twelve strokes of midnight.
I open my eyes with a start as thunderous applause erupts.
We move to the lobby for the intermission and stand in a quiet corner. I smile and say:
“They were amazing! I closed my eyes and relived the whole ballet.”
“Do you remember? Cinderella was our first performance on stage. How old were we?”
“Five or six.”
“We were the strokes of midnight.”
“I was number five.”
“I was number eight.”
“We were so excited to be on stage.”
A strong wave of nostalgia washes over me. With effort I bring my attention back to our conversation and listen to Aliza’s plans for the future and catch up on the latest gossip about our mutual friends.
We take our seats. The music starts. With great virtuosity, teacher and student play a very difficult variation by Rachmaninoff. But the music can’t hold my attention. I constantly fidget in my seat. A diffuse pain in my lower back is nagging me. Even though I am wearing ballerina flats, my feet start to hurt. I feel uncomfortable. Aliza glances at me questioningly. I shake my head and smile.
The concert is over. I feel tired and drained. I just want to go home. One last hug and a promise to meet again soon and we both go our separate way….
I arrive home exhausted. I enter the living room on wobbly feet and throw myself on the sofa. Sam is already home reading the news on his laptop. He looks up and smiles:
He waits for me to continue. But I just sigh, put back my head and close my eyes.
“How was the concert?”
“Did you enjoy it?”
I get up suddenly and go to the kitchen. What I need is a cup of tea. I put the kettle on. A cup of hot fragrant tea has always been my panacea in any kind of stressful situation. I stand idly by the stove. In my mind, I go over the evening. I can’t help wondering at the drastic change in me. During the first half of the program, I was comfortable and absolutely engrossed in the music. The second half was a disaster.
Why were my aches and pains absent during the first half and so prevalent during the second?
Reminiscing about our stage performances with Aliza, did trigger a strong nostalgia in me. It brought it all back: The training, learning new choreographies and practicing patiently for long hours, the satisfaction of mastering each movement and reaching that perfect balance and finally, the elation felt at the applause and appreciation by the audience at the end of a challenging and well executed dance variation.
The kettle’s loud whistle startles me out of my reverie. I get the teacup, choose my favorite tea bag (earl grey) and add a teaspoon of honey.
I turn around. Sam is standing in the doorway eyeing me curiously.
“Sofie what’s wrong?”
“Something is obviously bugging you.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
He stays silent while I stir the tea.
“You miss it.” He states.