Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Taking the First Steps in Accomplishing A Dream

I ventured out last night to my first writing group! The goal of the group is to gather feedback and discussion on something you've written. It's scary to wade into such unknown waters, especially when I really have no idea what I am doing, but it feels good to force the fear aside and take the first steps toward accomplishing my dream of writing a novel. It may seem silly, but sharing my work is more nerve wracking than almost anything I have ever done before. Ever. Seriously. Anyway, as mentioned previously, I said I would share what I wrote here. Below is something I hammered out during my daughter's ballet class. I am not a ballerina, but I have watched enough documentaries to know it's a tough life. Enjoy. :) (It's not finished - I'm not sure I will finish it. Psst, advice is always welcome.)

Discipline is overrated. It's a trait that leaves you alone in the dark to wither away with nothing but bloody toes, brittle bones, and dashed hopes. No matter how detrimental it was though, discipline was my constant and favored companion. It gave me insurmountable highs and allowed me to dance with nothing but spotlights in my eyes and the rhythm of my heart. I practiced Pirouettes and Pliés and Relevés until I could literally no longer stand. I would bend and leap and turn until my body gave in, eventually crashing on the studio floor. I dreamed ballet. I spoke ballet. I was ballet.

I ate nothing though and malnutrition was something I carried like a badge of honor. I lived in Paris, a city where the delicious smell of warm butter, sugar, and fresh crepes wafted through sweet, cobblestone streets. The smell was intoxicating and would often render me woozy. I however relegated myself to a diet of only dry carrots and black coffee. I had no relationship with man or woman, instead I found myself creating sporadic, but pretend love affairs with everything I had forsaken: the glistening glazed breads that taunted me in patisserie windows, attending the cinema with girlfriends, enjoying leisurely strolls along the Champs-Elysee. These things I only visited in my mind, for in reality they were simply for people who couldn't control their destiny. I, however, was 5'8" and weighed 95 lbs. I worked hours upon hours on my craft, I shunned what made life beautiful, and I slowly descended into a world that didn't actually exist.

In hindsight, my mind began crumbling when I left New York for France. Maybe it was the incessant pressure of my career, maybe it was the fact I had broken my arm during an overwrought rehearsal, or maybe it was the fact that my boyfriend of five years decided we weren't meant to be anymore. I am sure all those things contributed to my cognitive decline, but ultimately, I am most certain it was the isolation which I inflicted upon myself. 

It began innocently enough with a snippet of missing time. One afternoon, I awoke suddenly on the sidewalk completely unaware of how I got there. Drool and concrete grit stuck to the side of my face and my gym bag hung around the neck of a rather pungent homeless man sitting next to me. I refused to believe this could be a problem. "I'm just really, really tired," I told myself, which was a very valid excuse. A tiny part of me acknowledged that I had hit levels of dangerous exhaustion and for the next few days, I indulged in long naps and marathons of The Real Housewives of Paris. My work schedule allowed for it and since I had no friends, there weren't any social engagements to be concerned about. A few days passed and, convinced I had regained enough energy, I went back to my regular schedule of 18 hour days. Carrots and coffee were still my staple items, but now I proudly included celery and fat free cottage cheese and for a while it seemed the extra protein was all I needed. Everything was back to normal. Dance and sleep, dance and sleep, dance and sleep. I was functioning. I had pulled it off. I was going to survive. 

Until one day, I didn't survive. Those weeks where everything was "normal," had merely been the calm before the storm. This time I didn't wake on the sidewalk, I didn't wake in an ambulance or even in a hospital bed. I awoke in my own world, even more isolated than I was before, and the only way out was through a series of incredibly difficult acts of courage. 

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