I went to ballet today.

Today, I took a ballet class for the first time in...an embarrassingly long time, considering that I have touted all over Instagram that my one goal in life is to dance as much ballet as possible until the day that I die...

What kept me away from ballet class for nearly three years? Global pandemic. Anxiety. Depression. Panic attacks. And last but not least: the choice to stop neglecting my children for the sake of ballet and online content.

"Neglect" is a strong word. But the reality is that I needed to be more present at home.

And ballet isn't always good for me.

Ballet is simultaneously the thing I love the most and the thing that stresses me out the most.

Today in class we practiced ballet runs. We stretched our arms wide and high, turned our heads slightly, looked up at the ceiling, and ran across the studio on a high demi-point. I ran as if I was a prima ballerina in front of an audience of thousands, ready to leap into the arms of a danseur at the other end of the stage.

What I actually am is a thirty-five-year-old mom of two who gained forty pounds on anti-depressants last year. I am short and curvy. I am not rhythmically or athletically gifted. I am just here. And I just want to do ballet.

But when I do ballet, it is always with a touch of sadness. Sadness that I never will be dancing for that audience of thousands.

I've tried to convince myself otherwise, telling myself over and over again that I am perfectly content to be a passionate hobbyist. That I'd rather dance as I am than not at all. And there is some truth to that. But there is also sadness and denial and an overall attempt to make lemons of lemonade. I am the lemons. Adult ballet classes are the lemonade.

For reasons I do not understand, except that life is meaningless and tends towards chaos, I have been gifted by the universe with ballet feet. Stretchy ankles. High arches. Today the teacher told me, "I would have DIED for feet like yours." I simply smiled and continued with my tendus. It isn't the first time a dancer or teacher has gushed over my feet. It won't be the last.

It is, I suppose, a small bit of comfort that I have nice feet.

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