Maureen dropped her books on her desk. "You look exhausted," her roommate Cecilia commented. "Thanks," she replied, throwing herself onto her dormitory cot. She looked at the digital alarm clock, blankly reading 8:30. "I've been in the library since lunchtime doing research for that paper. Professor Groden is such a beast." Cecilia looked at her sympathetically. "It does seem pretty harsh considering it's only the first week. In her collapse Maureen had left the door wide open.
"Excuse me," a young woman said, poking her head into the room, "can you tell me where I might find Room 215." "I'll show you," Maureen volunteered. "Thanks. These dorms are like mazes," the young woman commented. I'm Lisa by the way." "Maureen. Here let me take that box," she offered as Lisa struggled with her luggage. "Thanks. I know I should have put my dancing clothes in with my suitcase but it would take up at least half of it." "Dance clothes?" "Yeah, that's my major. I especially love ballet." "I used to dance ballet. I actually went to ABA." "I take it your major is dance too then?" She smiled. "Not anymore. Actually it's psychology." Lisa smiled politely, but Maureen could tell Lisa thought she was crazy. "Your room is right here," she pointed out.
As she walked back to her room, she wondered the same question she had wondered since the day after the big recital. She was happier, but there was still a hole that she hadn't felt with she was on toe. "So have you thought about what you're doing for the weekend?" Cecilia pounced when she walked back in. "Why?" "There's a mixer at the Gamma Alpha house. That's the one Josh is in," she explained. Josh was just one in the endless sea of her crushes. Maureen swore she changed guys like some people changed socks. "Actually I'm going home for the weekend," she replied.
She looked around her old room as though seeing it for the first time. Her pink ballet slippers hung by a nail, on the wall, their pink ribbons dangling loosely. Another wall held the mementos of her career. Team pictures mingled with trophies and ribbons. Ballet posters were everywhere. She opened a drawer and took out a box. In it were her toe shoes. On a whim she put them on. They felt so natural on her feet. She rose up on them to see if she could still do it. Sure enough, she still had it. "Maureen, are you having regrets?" her mother asked from the doorway. She looked up like a startled deer caught in the headlights. "No. I was just seeing if they still fit," she responded tensely. Her mother started seeing a therapist shortly after the recital. It had helped ease the tension over the abrupt change in her career path, but she knew that her mother still was not okay over her decision. Her mother took a deep breath. 'A counseling technique,' Maureen thought. "Let's go get ice cream. After all it's not every weekend you're home from college," she suggested after a long second.
She returned on Sunday night feeling more unsettled than ever. Monday was no better. Picking up her mail, she found a letter from Jody. She couldn't explain why she couldn't bring herself to read it. 'Not right now,' she told herself. It was the paper that was coming up. It was dealing with an area where she wasn't comfortable, and she was trying to run back to a world she knew. "I'm not trying. I'm happy," she told herself almost angrily. "What are you happy about?" Cecilia asked. "Just the fact that my rough draft is almost finished," she replied gaily. "But your laptop is over there." "Yes it is. I'm taking a break, and if you'll excuse me, I'm going on a soda run. Do you need anything?" Cecilia shook her head no as she pulled out a script. She had lines to memorize and drastically short time to do it in.
She fumbled around in her pocket for change. She had to have a quarter or two. Finally finding the amount she needed, she slipped it in and made her selection. Regular, not diet. Diet was all she had drank in her dancing days, and it made the sodas she enjoyed now seem almost decadent. "Hello." "Oh hi Lisa." Rats of all the people that could have been behind her. Lisa wore the look that Maureen knew all too well. Skin flushed from dancing, Loose T- shirt and athletic pants to cover her dance wear. Hair pulled back to keep from flying in her face. She denied the twinge of envy, and made a quick getaway, muttering some excuse about the library.
After wandering for a while around campus, she decided a drive might help. She fumbled in her pocket for her keys, remembering she had left them in her dorm room. She opened the door to find her roommate attempt the clumsiest double pliet she had ever seen. "That's it, I've lost it," she cried. "Maureen, I need your help." "Please don't tell me you're changing your major to dance because that was the worst pliet I have ever seen." "No, it's for the autumn production of "Cant Take It with You. I'm Essie who's supposed to be the world's worst ballerina." "Congratulations." "Look," she started. "No don't even think it. I've told you." "I know you don't dance anymore, but if you could help me come up with a routine that's halfway believable..." "No..." I'll be forever in your debt." "No." "Please?" "No." "Not even with a cherry on top," she begged. Her look was so comical, Cecilia left her no choice but to laugh and give in.
They went down to the open dance studio. "1...and 2..." she instructed taking Cecilia through a common stretch workout. She knew that Cecilia would be dancing for a relative few minutes in the play, but Cecilia had insisted that learning the moves of a ballerina would help her immensely. "Now let's start with 1st position. No move that foot just a little to your right," she pointed out as they faced each other at the barre. While she was teaching she got so caught up in the moment, in ballet, in the world of dance, it was finally Cecilia who gave out. "I really appreciate your help, but I am way tired." "No wonder, we've only been dancing for an hour," Maureen commented, as she looked at the time on her cell phone.
She couldn't believe it. 'For someone who doesn't want to dance anymore, you sure found that fun,' a voice inside her said. It was getting to hard to ignore. Was she the budding psychologist, out to save every girl that had an eating disorder? Was she a daughter rebelling against her mother? Underneath all that, was there still a dancer? She went about her evening as though nothing were going on. She studied a little, went bowling with some of her roommates, and had dinner. When she finally went to bed, instead of going to sleep, she lay half the night staring at the ceiling.
"Now our next discussion is going to be on Multiple Personality Disorders. Usually when someone develops such a disorder, it's a way of running from themselves, trying to forget something or hide something. I would like each of you to write a paper..." a collective groan from the class cut off the professors next words. "You only have to write a page," he assured the dreading students. "I'm going to have my hands full grading your reports. Class dismissed." I'm going to have to face this,' she thought. She hadn't wanted to, but it was coming at her more and more.
She decided the safest way to start was by reading Jodie's letter. Coopers dance company was doing really well, despite the uproar caused by the assistant choreographer who was causing an uproar by moving to Las Vegas to handle one of the shows down there. She was living in a brownstone outside of Manhattan with a few of the girls from the ballet, while Charlie was living not more than a block away. They were getting to be quite close. Maureen sat back remembering how close she had gotten to some of the people she had danced with. She slipped back into a time when dancing was everything. She would be lost in another world when she fell into those routines. Her eye caught the course catalog. Maybe it wasn't too late. 'Just this semester,' she told herself. 'Just to see.'
"Maureen, how are you?" "Oh hi Lisa." "I had gotten the impression you were trying to stay away from dance. "Well I thought taking a class wouldn't hurt. I'm a little out of shape." Lisa nodded understandingly. "I remember once when I broke my leg. After about six weeks I couldn't wait to get back." "Is that the teacher?" Maureen asked Lisa as she saw a tall woman with dark hair enter the room. Lisa nodded, and Maureen excused herself to get her to sign her class addition slip.
"I don't know. Have you ever danced before?" "I've danced since I was five, and I studied at ABA." The teacher instantly signed her slip. "It's good to have you in my class." "Thank you.." The teacher smiled. "Just call me Jane."
"Okay class. We're through for today. Maureen can I see you for a minute?" Her stomach dropped. 'I'm not good enough. I should have never tried to come back.' "How long has it been since you last danced?" Jane asked. "Uh, just a few months." "You're good. Probably my best student." "Thank you." "The big project for this class is a recital. I'd like you to choreograph one of the numbers." Maureen panicked. She couldn't get so involved. This was supposed to be just a casual class, not one she had a major assignment for. "Is that something you think you can do?" Jane asked, looking at her quizzically. "Sure. Why not?"