"...go to the river of memory. Find one small detail, and start writing for just 10 minutes, trying to remember one small detail at a time. See where it takes you today." (pg. 11)
Memory: On Pointe
I remember the car ride and the butterflies gathering in my stomach on the drive from small, rural Arkansas Valley to Denver. The seemingly sophisticated teenage girls stuffed into my mom's Chrysler mini-van, their walkmans turned up to hear White Snake and Sinead O'Connor, while their shiny Lipsmackered mouths moved silently to the music. I stared out the window and gave myself a silent pep talk...I had to get those shoes. For as long as I could remember I had wanted to dance on pointe, to feel the height and grace that only those shoes, those prima ballerina shoes could give me.
After the 3 hour road trip, the girls burst out of the van, chatting and gum popping their way into the store. This trip was like so many others to everyone else. The other girls, all one or two years older than me, had their shoes. While they casually flipped through catalog order books and fingered racks of leotards, skirts, sweaters and leg warmers, I waited patiently, willing the knots in my stomach to loosen and relax. Stretching gently and raising my heels up to stand on the balls of my feet I glanced sideways in the full-length mirror, imagining what my legs and feet would look like when they were wearing the shoes.
At long last, the slender, tall saleswoman, looking very much like a weary, retired ballerina with dark and silver-streaked hair gathered in a low bun, called my name. She tenderly unwrapped a pair of soft, peach satin pointe shoes and held one firmly in her palm as she cocked her head, motioning for me to insert my foot into the opening. With a nervous gulp, I hastily spread a clump of lamb's wool over my toes and tried gracefully to slide my foot to the top of the shoe. Pulling the back of the shoe onto my heel, I gingerly held the two perfect satin ribbons at arm's length and caught my breath before wrapping the ribbons around my ankle and lower leg in a criss-cross pattern and tying the ends together into a workable knot. In a seated position I placed my foot upright and pivoted it to the side, so that I could see what my foot and stringy adolescent leg looked like in the shoe. With a slight blush, I hastily put on the other shoe, inhaled sharply and stood up, rolling onto the tops of my feet in both shoes while keeping my legs turned out. The blunt pain sent tears to my eyes, but I knew that if I had to, I could stand like that for the rest of the day...so long as I got to walk out owning my first, perfect pair of pointe shoes.