I had a friend in college from New Jersey. I loved to hear him talk. He said "water" like "wooder." And he said "five dollars" like "fy dollars." It's such a kick to listen to peoples' speech speech patterns. My brother-in-law is from Montana, and it's a "beg" instead of a "bag." Their dog, Maggie, is "Meggie." My sis, Lex, really emphasizes the ending -ing sound in her gerunds. (Helpful hint for you non-grammar nerds out there - a gerund is a word that ends in -ing. Gerunds are a good way to condense and electrify your sentences. Just so you know.)
Today was such a good day for me. I didn't have one doctor's office visit. No pokes or prods. I didn't feel nauseated or too tired. Not even too much pain.
However, the best, best, best part of the day was purchasing these:
Those, my friends, are bona fide Coppelias. What I used to dance in. When I was a little girl in the springtime.
Back story: So last night, I was on pinterest, pinning a billion pictures of ballet feet and bodies. Poses I think I'm capable of doing for my fabulous photo shoot on Tuesday after I teach my littles. I had to be careful in pinning, because there's a whole heck of a lot I can't do anymore, even if I still had a full range of motion in my left armpit (which I don't). When I taught my little girls grand jete, way back 1 month BM (Before Mastectomy), my own grand jetes were woefully inadequate. As were my double pirouettes. I mean, once I lose 30 pounds and get stronger, hopefully I can fly like I used to. But for now, I just pinned things that I think I'll be able to do on Tuesday.
And as I was going through these pictures, I was like, "Dang it, I wish I could wear some pointe shoes. These pictures would be so much more bad-arse if I could have some pictures of me on pointe." I figured it wasn't to be. Pointe shoes, back in the early 2000's (the last time I wore them), were like $60. Who even knows what they are now? I don't eeeven want to know. And I don't have that kind of fundage. I have medical bills to pay, yo. So I just sighed and pinned a lot of feet that were nicely placed up on the ball of the foot when in eleve. Or pointed in a cool way. Out in tendu, or in low arabesque. That kind of thing.
I also decided that, for my photo shoot, I don't want to wear my running capris and an underarmour shirt, as I usually do when I teach. I wanted to look legit. I wanted to look regal. So I decided to go to a dance wear store.
The only dance wear you can buy in our city is in the foyers of different ballet studios, and I didn't think they'd have enough inventory. Especially for this extra-large woman. Yes, I wear an extra large in leotards now. They're also expensive. The best thing is to buy online, but I came up with this idea so late in the game that I knew I'd have to pay a ton extra to get anything here on time.
So I headed down to Pocatello to a store with dance wear. Word on the street is that this shop is where all the I.F. girls have to go to get properly fitted with pointe shoes. There used to be a place here, but not anymore. Sigh. So I thought, kay. I'm-a go there. Dylan elected to stay home and play Wii/baby-sit Pep Smear, and Micah and Sadie went with me.
I admired my new bracelet as I drove. Wanna see it?
See, I think I'm just going to have to say my thank-yous via the internet, you guys. I literally have a list of like a hundred people I need to send thank-you notes to. It's so overwhelming... I also have 25 voicemails. Overwhelmed. I just can't do it. I can't check those voicemails. I'm so sorry if you've left me one. I'll sit down and do it soon.
So we got there to the dance shop, and the dang place was closed. Her general open hours are Wednesday evenings. And then only by appointment on other days. I called the phone numbers on the door, and one of the gals that works there said she actually had an appointment for a fitting in about an hour and that I could come back then.
So the ninos and I went to our favorite Pocatello sandwich shop and came back.
My initial goal was to get the basics - leotard, tights, skirt. But it took me some time. First of all, my left armpit is sore, and my pecs are sore, since they're getting all stretched out over my new boobs, so it just plain old took time. A lot of wincing and sharp intakes of air. A few groans. Also, I really wanted a pretty spaghetti strap leo, but I couldn't get anything in a tank or a spaghetti strap, because the swelling in my left armpit is too apparent. I also really wanted one of those cute shrug things, but I didn't want to spend too much. I still have to go out and purchase some scarves for my future baldness, after all. I also wanted one of those full-bodied knit jumpsuits. Or booty shorts. Or cute thigh-high legwarmers. Or these knit leggins that go all the way to the boobs, and then you fold them down.
For those of you in the know, all of the above make you bad-arse in the ballet world.
But I couldn't hack it. And it's okay. If I'm honest with myself, I never, ever worn legwarmers when I danced. My legs were plenty warm. And my arms were plenty warm, too, so I really don't need a shrug, either. I got a short-sleeved leo to cover the armpit swelling. The skirts are one size fits all, and, um, mine is...snug. I'm seriously wondering if I'm going to need to wear spanx under my leo so I can actually tie my skirt on. Sad.
So after much contemplating and sighing, I chose my three basics and went up to the front to pay. I glanced to my left, and there it was. The five-dollar bin. Full of pointe shoes. I thought, Naw. Pause. Naw. Glance. Naw. Stare.
"So each of these pairs of pointe shoes is only five bucks??"
"Yeah. If you can rise in them and feel comfortable in them and they're your size, only five bucks."
I had to try some on, guys. So I sat there on the floor and tried on all of the beautiful pink toe shoes that hadn't found a mommy to love them yet. The lady was helping a teenager with a fitting, and she saw me trying the shoes on.
"What size do you wear?" she asked.
"No idea," I responded.
"You can't remember?"
"What kind of shoes did you wear when you danced?"
"Uhhhhhhh.... something that starts with a C?"
"So you didn't dance in Blochs? Grishkos? Sanchas?"
"Oh, honey, Blochs were just coming out when I was just finishing up. I was old school."
She chuckled and turned back to her client.
So I found two pair that actually fit my wide foot. I didn't have any lamb's wool or anything, but I had to be sure that they felt good. That I felt comfortable and stable up on that box. So I shoved them on (if toe shoes fit correctly, they hurt to just stand in. They feel okay to run on the balls of the shoe or be on the toe, but standing = pain), and I rolled up on those suckers. One pair felt...meh. I felt like I wasn't on top of the box. Like it was dragging me back. But the other pair...clouds were parting. Choirs were singing. Right on top and over the box. Good arch support. Perfect. Just perfect.
The lady turned to me.
"Do you have any lamb's wool in there?"
"Naw, not yet."
"How long did you say it's been since you've rolled up on a toe shoe?"
"Damn. Those shoes are perfect on you."
"And these are only five bucks, right?"
She chuckled. "You lucked out, lady."
I looked at the insole of the shoe to see what type had fit my foot so well. They're called Coppelia. And that's when I remembered - I danced in Coppelias! I thought it was funny and so cool. Once a Coppelia girl, always a Coppelia girl, I guess. Once you go Coppelia, you never go...hm. Oooh, ooh, I thought of one: If it's not Coppelia, it's a failyah. Badda-BA! Get it? A failure? But you have to say it like you're from Brooklyn. A failyah.
So I bought my fy dollar shoes and my lamb's wool and my ribbons and my elastics. I'm going to have to look on YouTube to remember how to properly sew my stuff on. And I'm going to have to use my mom's sewing machine, because all my sewing stuff is packed.
The lady was like, "Tell me you're not going to try to full-on dance on these?"
"Oh, no. I don't feel like breaking my ankles."
"Right? So promise me you'll just roll up on them and make them pretty for pictures. Next to the barre."
"Oh, I promise. I'll come back to you when I'm strong enough and skinny enough for good ones."
"It's a deal."
I'm in love with these. I think I might propose soon.
The other day, I was reading one of my pamphlets from the Cancer Support Center in town. I think it was entitled, "Dealing emotionally with cancer." It talked about cancer as an opportunity to evaluate your life. It asked questions of the reader, such as, "What activity makes you light up inside?" "What is something you always look forward to?" "What makes you feel like life is worth living?" "What makes you smile?" Then it basically said, "As much as you possibly can, do those things. That's what will get you through. Even if you can't do these things sometimes or not even at all, look forward to doing these things."
I think that's what will help me fight this battle. Hope. I need to look at chemo as just an obstacle. It's a road I have to cross. It will take me four months to cross this stupid road. But then I can grow strong again. I can grow my hair again. I can recover. I can dance again. And who knows. Maybe I'll feel good enough to dance sometimes during this whole process. On those rare good days, go gently work out at the barre and break these shoes in. Break a sweat. Feel moments of strength amidst the weakness.