Ballet Mondays

May 2, 2023

Graphic by Binny Bae

One day when we are mothers and wives I will remember the way our bodies danced in sync to classical music. Jumping up into sous sou and finishing with a plié.

I will remember the walk home from ballet back to one of our apartments — we took turns hosting every week. We would chat while one cooked dinner. Pasta or Tex-Mex, it didn’t really matter. We were nourished in every way. Our stomachs were full of food, our hearts full of love, and our ears full of gossip.

Sometimes our talks were lewd and crass, sometimes we were divulging secrets, and sometimes we were dreaming of the future. We created lists of things we wanted to do together from swimming in the springs to Pride parades in Paris.

In a perfect world, we would do them all. But the world is not perfect and it seems as though we are all racing against the clock of growing up, graduating, and moving on.

I am too busy soaking up every inch of love that I forget to romanticize our time together. Our conversations are loud, we throw our heads back laughing, we watch Disney movies and singing competition shows. Without shame, we use filler words (like, um, literally) and we let our hick accents run wild.

We yell and say “Write this down! Write this down!” As if to immortalize the thoughts that are only really meant for each other.

We work to heal and grow and flourish. I realize now that I no longer need to cut my body open and bleed for a good story. I can smile widely and immortalize the tender moments for everyone’s delight. We are not tragedies exploited for consumption, we are just girls crowded around a laptop planning trips to Europe and cooking with heart-shaped utensils.

I don’t need things to be perfect or heartbreakingly romantic. At the end of the day, we are just girls.

I know that soon, in a month, Ellen will graduate and she won’t be part of Ballet Mondays anymore. In six months Gracie will follow. Soon I will be alone, quietly swaying in the back of the class, going home to an empty apartment. I will fill my stomach with food, and my mind with the stories they tell me of their travels. Ellen will be somewhere fabulous (New York, London, Paris, Barcelona) and Gracie will be getting engaged and starting her life.

Graphic by Binny Bae

While they are moving, I will be dancing.

I am somewhere behind them both, lost in the years I still have ahead of me. In order to move forward, must we always be looking back? I feel so small and so young. I look up to them in every way. I crane my head to see them reach for the sky and pluck a cloud like it’s a ripe peach.

For me, it’s not about the synchronized rond de jambes; it’s about having a tradition. Something sacred just for the three of us. It preserves family dinners that we once cherished or wished we had. It mends the wounds we endured: the lack of food or love or family. We smoothed it over like butter and laughed in sync the same way we danced (and oh, how we danced).

All the best things come in threes.

Between us there are three shoulder-length bob haircuts, two belly button piercings, and soon-to-be one remaining member of Ballet Mondays.

Mondays have become my favorite. It’s like going to church on a Sunday morning; we kneel at the altar and say our prayers between giggles. We confess our sins with sips of Diet Coke as communion. We pray to the God of femininity and are reborn as three tiny dancers. We spin like figurines trapped in a music box. We stumble and make faces at each other when we mess up. It is raw and real and it makes me feel 8 years old again. It warms my heart. It makes me feel like a woman wearing the shoes of a child. ■

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