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Ballroom Dancing, Piano & Spanish

Three things from my past, present...and future?

Here's me in my Clemson purple costume with my instructor, Maksim...(and then I woke up!) ;)

There are a few items lingering around in my life, occupying a different space than the things we keep "because we might need them some day." (There are always plenty of those!!) They are still around because they represent a few things I could have/should have/would have been really good at if I'd just stuck to it over time. At least in my mind.

Babies and Baby Grands

My parents, who were working modest jobs with modest pay when I showed up, bought a second hand baby grand piano for me when I was 5 years old. Since all first-time parents are certain their first child is a prodigy, I was signed up for lessons while I was still navigating kindergarten. My mother (who wholeheartedly believes all her children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren are the most wonderful and beautiful and talented humans on the planet) was extremely encouraged when the elderly piano teacher assured her I had the most potential of any student she'd ever seen. (wink wink) The lessons continued for several years and the piano got moved to several locations, ultimately finding its 45-year-long featured spot in the living room of the home where my sisters and I came of age, explored our various hobbies and interests, and created most of our childhood memories.

Then one day I turned 13. Suddenly, although the piano assignments became more interesting because my then-much-younger teacher allowed me to learn popular music ("I Write The Songs," anyone??), it was so much more worthwhile and significant to building my eternal character and lifelong repertoire of skills to invest every single minute of my free time toward becoming a junior high school cheerleader. No time for piano practice, Mom! I think it's obvious where this is going.

The piano, still a beautiful and useful piece of furniture, became the showcase spot for a vast array of family photos and a distraction for toddler grandchildren who were offered the option of banging on the piano in exchange for throwing a tantrum. My father continued to call it "your piano," and very clearly expected me to officially take ownership when they were ready to move on. Well, of course I want "my" piano...I'm going to take lessons again SOMEDAY! Clearly, the storage unit where it currently lives is temporary, because I'm absolutely going to find somewhere to put it and take lessons again very soon. Why? Because quitting at 13 is one of the regrets of my life that I still have a chance to redeem. Because I realize every day my cheerleading skills are not offering me nearly as much solace or satisfaction as if I could sit down and play Rachmaninoff...or Barry Manilow. Plus, I still love that piano.

¿Esta Susana en Casa?

Somewhere along that same timeline in my life, I determined it was important to my relevance as a productive human learn a foreign language. (And it was.) Living in Florida, Spanish was it. It came to me pretty naturally and I enjoyed having a "secret code" among my friends in the class. In my second year, I was awarded the "Sobresaliente" and "Mas Inteligente" awards, indicating I had indeed picked up the language (or at least completed the exercises) with some success. So what did I do when I got to high school? I took Latin. Yes -- I was convinced knowing the roots of words would make the most difference on my SAT scores. Plus, the Latin teacher was young and cool and several of the cute boys at our school were in the class. Done deal. many times have I wished I could speak Spanish fluently since? Too many to count. Response to make up for my failure and pick up where I left off? Organize an after-hours Rosetta Stone workshop for my co-workers (we had clients in Panama and the D.R. so the boss paid for it)...which lasted about 4 months. Buy a Spanish-English dictionary for a trip to Spain (where I found pointing and hand gestures work just as well...or maybe better?). Download a Duolingo app on my phone (which has never been opened, but I might use it...someday!). Luckily, I can translate the menu at a Mexican restaurant with ease, thanks to frequent road-trips to Rosarito Beach for cheap "langostas" and "margaritas" during my San Diego grad school days. ¡Cerveza, por favor!

I've Had the Time of My Life

I've always loved to dance. I've always loved and been inspired by music. Long before Dancing With the Stars (and long before I got married), I decided I shouldn't have to wait for the perfect life partner to take lessons, so I signed up at a locally-owned studio which employed several handsome, charming instructors. I could not afford this program of lessons...but I really needed them. It was the one place where I could declutter my mind and laser focus on where I was in that single moment. No wandering thoughts or anxious notions can hijack your brain (or your body) when you are 100% dedicated to where your feet are going, holding the correct frame, keeping up with the rhythm of the song playing, and not looking like an uncoordinated fool. (I am definitely not uncoordinated...I was a cheerleader! 20+ years ago...hmm...) I did competitions and showcases and choreographed routines. I went to the Friday night socials to ensure I could actually follow someone other than my instructor. I recruited my friends for group classes in hopes that someone...anyone...would love it too, and we would be at the same wedding and I would have someone to dance with who knew the same steps.

Then...on to other things. But that custom-made Argentine tango dress with the strategically-placed rhinestones and built-in bloomers? (my cheerleading friends know exactly what that means) It will always have a home in my closet...because SOMEDAY I will be taking those lessons again. And I'm totally sure, when that day comes, it will also fit.

Just For Me...?

There is no good reason why I have not committed to these fulfilling hobbies again...there is simply no urgency. No accountability. "Someday" does not have a deadline. Why not? Perhaps we believe there will always be time "later." Or we women think we have to do something perfectly (or for someone else) to make it worthwhile -- we rarely just go for it, do something for ourselves alone, or learn a skill for the pure enjoyment of it. (What would I do with that??) Yet somehow these few "things" I hold on to are still a part of me, a part of who I was, a part of who I still think I can be. Someday.

So what am I going to do next? Go in the downstairs closet and pull out the electronic keyboard I bought 10 years ago to "take lessons again" until Mom and Dad were ready for me to claim the baby grand. I think I'll bang out a few bars of Chopsticks...and keep el sueño alive.


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