Just being inside of a civic center is like being inside of a petri dish for lastima. Couple that with the words “dance recital,” and OUCH.
I buzz in like a merry bumblebee, because I’m here to see my niece grace the stage for the first time. To watch her point and plié, and smile that heart-stopping smile. At four years old, it’s already a honey I’m drawn to.
But the program says her class is #17 on the bill. NUMBER SEVENTEEN?!&#% Exasperation. Annoyance. Boredom. Those are my go-to feelings. Yet Pink song after Pink song, I have no choice but to pay attention. And I start to really see these dancers: Over-expressive faces covered in glitter. Shy introverts shuffling their feet. Cheesy costumes made up of too much tulle. Youthful jazz hands and tiny tapping feet and terrible pirouettes.
Pretty soon I’m crying into my purse because these girls have a dream. Maybe they’re giving it their all. Maybe it’s just that their parents made them do it. One thing is for certain, there are six thousand cameras in the audience and every kid wants to be a star.
And I can’t tell them they likely won’t be professional ballerinas. I can’t tell them that the odds aren’t good. I can’t tell them why life is unfair. I can only clap my hands, and let the avalanche of lastima flow. Finally #17 comes and I shoot up, beaming. Let them enjoy the movement. Let them enjoy the moment. Let them enjoy the dream.
p.s. A good kick-ball-change can have me weeping.
p.p.s. Apparently I didn’t know my chances weren’t good back then.