I spent all yesterday making pasta and listening to ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (GREAT writing, it just gripped me and didn’t let me go.) Then my friend Charlene came by, we had dinner and then had to hurry to the cinema to watch ‘the Hobbit’. Oh, what did they do to the book! Everything over-simplified or changed, unnecessary scenes added and others removed. Does Bilbo need to be this rustic, does Thorin need to be this glorious, does Elrond have to go out hunting orcs and does Galadriel need to do everything in slow-motion? The fighting, the armour, the ridiculous rabbit-sled, everything is extremely unrealistic. They would have been killed or hurt a hundred times in all those scenes. The only thing I liked was the scene where the eagles carried them away. Charlene liked it, though. And I’ll just try to keep the books and the films separate in my mind.
I hadn’t seen Charlene in months. We were both busy, and I at least don’t think we are friends anymore. I changed too much. All that is important to me is not important to her. She is interested in video games, films, science fiction, fantasy and vampire books, medicine. I am interested in ballet, dance, music, nature, sometimes art or literature, and at the moment, weight loss. I only feel like half a person when I am with her, because she doesn’t acknowledge the big part of me that is a dancer. I have the urge to tell her some things about my training, and I say a few things. She says yes, ok, nods. She never asks to know more, she never wanted to come watch a class. It feels like I’m trying to shout to her, but a wind drives all the words back in my face. It feels as if she doesn’t see me the way I see me. I get tense when she is with me, I have trouble feeling my body. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, and maybe that’s why I have gradually let the intervals between our meetings grow longer and try to meet her at the cinema so we don’t have to talk so much. This sounds so strange and cruel. Yet maybe she feels the same, or she would call more often. After our meeting, I felt relieved in a ‘duty over’ sort of way… This isn’t friendship.
Today, I took a morning class. It was supposed to be Belinda teaching, but she had to cancel at the last moment and Annika took the class. I hate preparing in my mind for one teacher and then coming to find there’s another. Now Annika taught that class once before and struck me as a strict and charismatic teacher. She makes me want to try harder. It was a little funny today, because a new girl next to me was giggling after the first combination and it suddenly struck me how much she resembles a cliché ballet teacher: She’s elderly and a little plump around the middle and dressed in black, but with a golden brooch, heavy make-up and a cloud of (I think) Chanel No. 5 around her. She calls us girls and darlings in a loud deep voice, even the 70-year-olds, but shouts if we make mistakes. She has an accent I can’t place and speaks French fluently. When we were doing a combination across the floor, she said I shouldn’t be so shy. This is the third time I heard that this week, from the third teacher. The thing is, when it’s fast and I’m struggling to be on tempo or even remember the steps, I can’t dance or present myself. I got better at it, but only when I feel secure. How can I stand there proudly or look at the ‘audience’ when I’m muddling through a combination, when I feel like my technique is going out the window. I can’t ‘present’ something bad! I know it’s wrong and we shouldn’t show mistakes or frustration or a lack of confidence in our expression, but I do. In my face, in my upper body and arms. I fall in on myself, I make everything small. ‘Don’t look at me, I’m ugly and I dance ugly’. That’s what I feel. Sometimes, teachers or classmates will say it wasn’t actually bad, but I just can’t ‘fake it’. It’s even harder being fat, because there is this whole complication, this added mortification of ‘Oh no, what I’m doing doesn’t look like ballet, and when I move fast things jiggle and I look even fatter and clumsier and of course the eye is drawn to large objects, what will they think about me?’ etc. etc. But in the end, I got it and the teacher told me ‘nice work’ after class. And even if it’s hard and painful at times, it’s still what I love to do. I won’t give up. I’ll improve. ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…’