Of all the photographs I took and posted of my daughter this weekend, this is my favorite. At any given moment she went from wide open vulnerable twelve all the way to I know something you don't twenty. I remember my parents seeing this in me and remarking on it, sometimes delighted and sometimes frightened because of the sudden shifts. I remember my sister-in-law remarking of her adolescent daughters and their friends that they were all beautiful at that age no matter what and they just didn't know it. I thought about that for a while. I was probably in my early twenties and just starting to realize that I was always looking back and thinking, I was beautiful when I was 18 and now that I'm 23 and I've had a baby it's kind of over. I thought, wait. When I'm 30 I'll look back at 23 and say, what the hell was I thinking and when I'm 40 I'll look at 30 and think exactly the same thing and so here I am at 50 and every time I apply the 40 year old filter to the 50 year old face and body I step forward in time and apply a different filter until my perspective changes and I get a grip on what beautiful means. Or does not mean. Back to my sister-in-law. She was and still is (best I can tell by the few photographs I manage to see on Facebook that are available if they're posted friends of friends) extraordinarily beautiful. I think she's doubted that since she was 16 and on the cover of a boating catalog and told she needed a boob job. She regretted it a week after she got them.
She was extraordinary this weekend. I don't know if other mothers or fathers recognize this in their children when they do these things. I don't know if all children experience what Elizabeth did. Some of them are wrapped in layers and layers of some sort of self-confidence that belies the reality of the truth. You are here in front of a panel of judges who *will* find you wanting. You are here because you want something they have and it is not a walk-in. You're open or not heart is on the line.
Maybe that's the difference. Her open heart is on the line. I saw lots of hearts in two rooms this weekend, mostly on Saturday because Sunday was a scattered and not nearly as intense an event. Some hearts rattled their sabers in fear, some hearts sat with others and calmed each other. Some hearts sat closed in corners. Some ran about mercilessly. My heart straightened herself up, stretched a bit in the warm room while she waited, told herself who she trained with and where she came from and then pulled herself up and got in line by number and went into a room with apparently close to sixty other dancers a good many of which will have left her in the dust. It was only an hour, that first class on Saturday but she came out wide open and that's about as good as it gets because it isn't about getting in right now. Getting in would be lovely. Getting in would be absolutely freaking wonderful but that isn't why we came, not really. We came to face the barre and the center and the double pirouettes on the left side and the fall and the getting up.
This morning in the mirror where we never see each other together since we stopped sharing a bathroom years ago and even when we did she was too short for the mirror, we DID see each other together and we stopped, struck by the novelty and she said, take a picture! I have no idea how to take a picture in the mirror. The camera is in the picture. This is ridiculous. No, do it! I must have taken 20 of them and they were all flat out weird and then we had this one where I'd just given up focusing on anything and we had multiple reflections and just smiles and she looks half in and half out of 12 and 20 and I can see that mouth with lipstick that's never worn except for auditions and performances coming out of nowhere and I'm just smiling over her shoulder timeless. That's just me. Because I've forgotten that anyone is looking.
Later we were at The Met because we wanted to see Degas and the dancer in fourth and I always want to see Vermeer and I am confused because I know what is at the Frick and forget what is at The Met and I had a migraine and we were dragging but there was one more to do and who KNEW two of these would be just so much in one weekend?
Before we went in there was a man singing at the base of the steps. We heard him when we got out of the cab before we could even see him and I went running over and dropped a five in his bag because I didn't ever want to stop listening. I figured a five was good enough to sit there and cry for awhile. I sat up six steps and put my arms on my knees and just sat there and let loose. He stopped singing for a minute and I looked up. We looked at each other for a minute; it was unbearably intimate. And then he started singing love songs. In New York City you may sit on the steps of The Met in front of a man singing love songs for money and you may sob into your lap for as long as you'd like and no one will even look at you sideways. Even the tourists will turn away.
Elizabeth sat 40 feet and 16 steps away until I was done. I asked if I could take his picture and he agreed. When I left we said thank you and then Elizabeth and I checked our bags and went in.
Today's audition was less fraught. She was too tired. I think she might have been worked harder and it was 90 minutes but it was really hard to tell. She was certainly less frightened and I think it's less competitive. MYB is where she'd rather be she says but FAB is where she was yesterday and FAB is probably the better school but she'll go where she goes if she goes at all.
By the time we arrived back in Westport there were six inches of snow on the ground and it's still coming down. Her dad picked us up. The ride was exciting and I'm grateful for it.
I don't think it will ever be this hard again. I don't know that we'll ever have a weekend like this again. I think you can only really have one and we've had it.
And it was good. And it was right.
And *she* is one righteous dancer.