When I was born, my parents were absolutely thrilled and absolutely terrified. They were very young I arrived while they were only ending secondary school. Instead of doing what proper parents would do and helping mine make it further in the world, their own parents kicked them out of their homes at the tender ages of seventeen and eighteen to begin a quick marriage on low-end salaries. My father managed to finish business school and progressed through his career in the news and film industry after about five years, but the first four years were difficult. I managed to bring cheer to their tiny home, despite the rockiness and the ramen, however. As a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was sneak into my Mother’s top drawer and find a pair of her sparkly tights to stretch over my arms; because they were long, they made a decent pair of wings. One day, to the horror of my parents, I climbed into the willow tree in our backyard, much higher than any four year old should be able, and couldn’t climb down. It took hours before the babysitter noticed I was missing and my parents arrived home from work. By that time, my small arms were exhausted.
While my father was busy trying to instruct me on how to climb down, I once again became distracted by the sparkling extensions of my arms. Maybe, they really had magic. Maybe I could fly. Ignoring my father’s speech, I leaned over the edge of the branch and took a leap of faith. However, my hover midair was not due to my nylon feathers. It was my mother’s magic that kept me from breaking both my legs that day. After that, things changed. It wasn’t because we had the money for my mother to stay home that she now watched my every move (like a hawk) but rather because she felt too afraid not to keep an eye on me. With the way my cousin Avalon had disappeared out of nowhere a year ago, it almost seemed like no place was safe.
If one thing remained true, it was that I I remained just as a determined and just as in love with dancing. By the age of five, I had convinced my mother (which was not easy) to take me to a ballet class. I entered the class unaware and walked out withstars in my eyes which she tells me have never disappeared. I’ve always believed that in another life, I had wings, which is why in this one I dance. By the time of my first recital in Ludlow, I was receiving private lessons with the instructor who taught publicly. Most of my younger years of tuition came at no cost to my family, for which I am grateful. Because of it, today, I am able to explore my greatest love in a way that many others have never experienced.
My parents decided to move to Evermore when I was six years old and they found out about the haven of safety for people who were more or less like us. Magical covens did exist in England, but they were few and far between and the risks often outweighed the benefits. My father and my uncle traveled first to the small town in Colorado to visit one of the Instar Diviner covens. They were excited by what they saw, despite that we were all nervous to leave what had been home for so many years. I know my Uncle was particularly affected by the move. It was hard for him to leave the last place he’d ever seen his baby girl, especially knowing and wondering if she’d ever return.
Life in Evermore, as a child, was not that different to what it is now, despite the fact that the city was somewhat smaller twenty years ago than it is now. I lived with my parents in a tiny brick house in the suburbs, until I was ten years old. By that time, my ballet training had progressed as far as it could with a local teacher and it was time to consider sending me elsewhere if I really wanted to train as a dancer.
My parents struggled. They now had two daughters. My sister, Luna, had been born when I was seven and she took up a lot of my mother’s spare time. My father was better off financially and now was the manager of three studios in the area. He didn’t have a lot of time to give either and often made it up to me by taking me shopping on Saturdays. I was spoiled, financially, but personally my parents didn’t do well in connecting with their eldest daughter. They made the decision to send me back to London to focus on my dance Education wasn’t easy for anyone, apart from me. My family and especially my mother took it very hard and very personally that I wanted to leave home, but ultimately, my father pulled for me and I left home at the age of eleven. I was sponsored by a British family who lived two blocks away from the The Royal Ballet School. When I flew into England, I didn’t know right away that I would be accepted into the best ballet academy that London had to offer, but I did know that I would try my best and only hoped that it would be enough.
In truth, as sad as it may seem, I often feel more connected to my host family than I do to my genetic relatives. I lived with them for nine years, my formative years, and they were more present in my situation than my mother and father had ever been.They packed me a school lunch, every day, and paid attention to what made me laugh and the girls and boys I had crushes on in sixth year. Sometimes, to a child, that is all that matters. It’s the little things that count the most. It’s who’s therefor you when you get your first period and who tucks you in bed and cares about the nightmares. I know that my mother didn’t get the chance to participate in half of these memories, but for the first half of my life and the ones she did, the little moments were more often dismissed than noticed. Sometimes it still hurts.
I now have a second sister, whose name is Thea, but I barely know her. She texts me sometimes and I try to answer as best I can for someone who is related to me and I should care for, but have such little memory to draw off of. Luna, on the other hand, completely ignores me or when I am home acts like I have offended her to the core. I’m not sure what happened there, but I also don’t know if I want to know the story. One thing I know is that if I had spent my teenage years with our mother, I would certainly be much bitterer than I am today. My father is a gracious soul and blesses him, I don’t know how he puts up with her, but he does. He has more patience than his children.
There are good memories from my childhood, despite the tension between my parents. When I was six, we used to travel to the beaches at Brighton and rent a cottage. It was expensive, but if everything else was scrimped, it was a lovely holiday. I made friends on those waves and fished for sea shells and today, other than dancing, the ocean relaxes me more than anything else I know. There’s something about soft sand and the sound of gulls that calls to my soul and my inner child.
I regularly traveled to Brighton during school, but it wasn’t until I was nineteen I rediscovered someone that had vanished from my life like a sandollar into the ocean. Her name was Ridley and we first met when we were seven years old. She was pale with freckles and would turn a devilish pink in the sun and I would laugh and call her a watermelon. She would stick her tongue out at me right back when I stepped on something squishy in the water and leaped five inches high. Looking back, I can recognise that this was the first time that I’d ever had feelings for a girl (despite how small they were back then) and I realised that as a person I more than some tend to appreciate others not for the outside packaging, but the general sense of wellbeing they bring into my life. Ridley is the kind of gem that once found, you certainly hope to never lose.
My hard work and many hours of slaving away in studios, my bandaged feet, my dancing on empty, and my never ever letting anyone make a choice for me slowly began to pay off. My auditions finally began to result less in ‘understudy’ and more in ‘encore’.After three hours of dancing, you may get to go home and go to sleep, but as a principal dancer, I do my post exercise routine, eat, pray, hope to anything I can calm my beating heart, and then fall into bed. Then, I wake up and do it all again in the morning. When I tell people that I am married to ballet, I am not joking.
Relationships can be hard enough to keep in a busy world, but for a performer, very rarely do people persistently stick around when you have art twisted around your little finger. I dated a little. Mostly, they got tired of me being late or forgetting scheduled appointments, or showing up to a date half-asleep because I work so hard. They weren’t interested in being with someone who spent so much of her time at being the best at what she did. Despite that I know they were the wrong people, it got discouraging to see so many people leaving. It brought up old wounds. I couldn’t help but start to wonder if once I was too old to dance professionally, I would be left with no close friends, no family and no love in my life.
Then, there was Ridley; who never failed to text me even when I didn’t always text her back. Ridley, who showed up and watched me practice dance, with dinner on the floor, because she knew I couldn’t go out. Ridley; who would talk, while I danced, or worked out, or ran through choreography, I had a friend in my life that was never afraid to put herself in my world, when I couldn’t manage to escape out of it.
It was innocent at first, a little kiss on the cheek here and there, but after a little bit it became more. We stayed together for two years. However, sometimes, the best things end as friends, because ultimately, no one can give up that kind of love,for the other.
I moved back to Evermore and told myself it would be temporary. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to come back to a place which held relatives that I hadn’t contacted as much as I could have and was farther from professional dancing than I’d been in years, but relationships can be mended and sometimes healing takes place when you take a step back to look at your life differently. I currently own a dance studio and teach private classes to both the youngest and the oldest in Evermore. It’s been good to be able to step back and look at myself as a person. I haven’t been anything, but a prima ballerina in far too long. Now, finally, I’d like to start being Aster.
One step at a time, even if it’s on the tip of my toes.