Ballet girl

“It’s hard to be funny while being depressed”. She left the room, turned around at the door, lifted her chin up and said “I don’t want to see you again. I know that you’re wrong, just like everyone else”. Disappointment and hatred seeps from every cell of her thin body. The girl, fragile as a breeze of wind, a dancer by soul, felt that nobody understands.

Life is like a game, a really bad one. The girl felt like she was just a pawn, no matter what colour and easily replaceable by another one. Or maybe a chessboard reflects her even better, she noted as a witty image passed her mind. She was a pawn wearing the cape of worthlessness. Always there for someone else to take and use, on a mission to please others. A best friend. She had one once. That was before she noticed that she had started a private orgy with food, and nobody else was invited. Food, recipes and the reflection in the mirror had become the most important things. Actually, they were the chords that filled her notebook. The notebook, which determined the steps of the march of her life.

Her daily rhythm had become clearly outlined. The goal of everything she did was to keep the flame of life as big as possible, with as little energy as possible. However, dancing did matter to her. It was the thing that pumped life to her soul, blood to her heart and meaning to her existence. During the morning ballet classes, she noticed that she was waking up from a bad dream, from the brink of nocturnal nightmares and hours of hunger. The body was awakened by the rhythm of the basic steps, the pole gave support like an old friend; it was by her side and stayed there. The pace of the music offered an escape from the world of food and the forced pace of her march of life. She was able to jump into dance solos, feel her body wake up from the emotional roller coaster and feel happiness fill her stiff body.

She snapped back to reality after the class as the corridor was filled with chatter about the coming premiere and the selection. Who would be included and who would be left out? The girl noticed the competition and her feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty. She was like a rabbit caught in the headlights. But I don’t want to, I want to be the principal dancer, I want to be a star, she thought. She wanted to be seen, not fade away. But still, there was something that stopped her from daring, stepping up, honouring herself. It was much safer to retreat, hide and observe from a safe distance.

Her shaky hand filled the basket with sweets, how wonderful. She knew that they would fill her up. In the grocery store she was a star, limitless and free, as she filled her basket with sweets in all her eminence. As soon as she got home, frankly she never even got that far, chocolate and candy wrappers flew off so that she could fill herself to a level of contentedness. This moment, filled with joy and misery, was hers and only hers. It was not worth trying to reach her, and if someone did try, the ringing of the phone and doorbell fell on deaf ears.

The exhaustion presented itself retrospectively. The girl curled up in a foetal position on her narrow bed; weakness and fatigue hit her like a post-premiere exhaustion. Feelings of fulfilment and emptiness followed each other like the steps of a march, leaving the body in the middle of a battlefield. Thoughts passed her mind, but she couldn’t grasp them. She was too exhausted to gather them, and she fell asleep before experiencing them.

The female doctor looked serious. She looked the girl in the eyes, observed her facial expressions and her look signalled that she wanted to understand. The girl didn’t dare. She knew that the doctor had been informed about the seizure she had before the premiere. It was supposed to be her night, but it never came. Now she was sitting next to this blonde middle-aged woman who kept on looking at her like a fragile tower of matchsticks, although she felt like a glass made-up from fragments. Was she broken or whole? She didn’t know. The doctor’s look was filled with questions, understanding and eagerness to help. “Would you go on an exploration with me? We’d ponder about who you are, where you’re coming from and where you’re heading”. “Maybe” the girl answered.

Picture: Sakari Viika, the Finnish National Opera