Family Magazine

Once a Dancer, Always One.

By Rachel Rachelhagg @thehaggerty5

As we grow older, and the babies are birthed from our bodies, the rhythm of the dance routines remain in our muscle memory. The way we were stretched to our physical limits, and a part of a team of young women, forced to work together to reach one goal. A passionate performance. 

Sitting in my seat at the recital of a friends daughter, my mind went back in time.

The make up had to be just right. I had never worn this much make up in my life. This was the only time I was allowed to look really grown up, as my Dad said. The bright lights above me from the mirror lit up a young woman inside, and gave me courage to go on stage. 

I could do this, I was fearless. I knew my routine well, and I knew friends and family would be watching me, watching us. My team. Cheering us on. All the nights I would have rather stayed home, than going to work out… they would pay off tonight as the curtain was drawn, and the tiny curves of my body moved about for the audience to see. My talent was my hobby, and my hobby was my talent. I came alive on the stage.

I came alive with the sounds of the tap shoes, and the smell of sweat. The anticipation of the crowds cheering, the way my peers and I squeezed our hands together so tight. The way we held our breath as the curtain raised to begin the show. Oh, and the way we caught our breath leaping off stage, into the darkness. Quiet we would remain, only large smiles and tiny silent claps would be accepted. 

As we prepared for our second act, the change of costume was rapid. A few seconds to touch up our mascara, and back down we went. In my life in that moment, nothing else mattered. I was a dancer, about to perform. Ready to show the world my hard work, my tears from pushing myself too hard, and my small talent to show the audience. The silent looks of anxiety and fear of failure spread like wild fire as we went on stage. My chest heaving from anticipation of what was to come. My performance. The only way I knew at that point in my life to express myself. I expressed myself with such joy and so many fond memories of dance, and gymnastics in my youth. 

 Tonight, after I got all of the children tucked in bed, I found myself standing in front of my bedroom mirror. Underneath my eyes were bags from lifes events, or perhaps I am getting old. Regardless of what I tell myself. My tank top revealed the stretch marks of babies, and the love I carried , so many times. My face aging, my legs growing wider and losing muscle tone.

My hair longer than it was in high school, I let it down. I took a good hard look at myself, smiled and I danced.

I watched myself as my body remembered the stretches, the movement of a dancer. Suddenly my arms became perfectly curved, my fingers pointed just so. My feet, weary from the day pointed themselves, without hesitation. With only the beat of my own heart, I began to twirl. Stretch. Move.

When our bodies learn a form of expression, our muscles remember it. Forever. Our bodies are always aching to express who we are, who we were made to be. 

It’s when we let go of who we have become in our older age, and allow ourselves to remember what we once loved, how we once expressed who we were in our very core, that’s when we become young again. Numbers don’t define who we are. Our bodies will always be the same, they will always remember what they loved. 

Even now, as I struggle to stretch my legs in front of my dusty mirror, I know that deep inside I am a dancer. I am a gymnast, and all my life my body will remind me of what I once was. It will not let me forget as I am trying to cheer up my babies, dancing in the kitchen. As I am at a wedding, dancing on the dance floor.

I hope one day to teach my son to slow dance before the prom, and my daughters… to watch them on stage, experiencing the same thrills I once loved. I still love. I will always love. To dance.


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