Used to nursing my own shin splints, foot fractures and assorted blisters, taking care of my 90 year old father is quite a bit easier. I used to live in a crime ridden area of a city where there was drug dealing, prostitution and gun shots as a norm on Saturday night. Looking out my upstairs window, you could see the craps game going on between two units. The players placed a sheet of plywood on the ground and circled it, playing craps– out in the open daylight. That took balls. I was the only one who wasn’t making any money in this nefarious neighborhood. Yes, I did feel at odds with where I lived. I felt like it was only a matter of time before I got hit by a random gunshot.
Reluctant to lose my independence, I continued to teach ballet long after an automobile accident impaired the nerves in an arm and leg. Major nerve damage, soft tissue damage, herniated discs, whiplash, and ADD were results of the crash. Pain was constant. I lay in traction twice daily, for years, trying to regain the curve in my neck. My neck curved in the opposite direction of normal. The herniated discs in my back were the hardest to deal with. I could no longer demonstrate the dance moves that I used to. It took a couple of hours after waking for me to be able to walk with out flinching from pain. Alternating heating pads and ice packs throughout the day was a way of life. I drove to work with ice packs on my back, knee, ankle, neck or all of those, on my way to work. Using massive doses of advil, zostrich and salon pas until my waistbands on tights kept reheating, even after washing. I managed to limp through teaching for a decade after the automobile accident. It wasn’t getting easier. It was getting harder. Jumping up to teach a fouette cold, I ripped something in my leg. It nearly made me swoon. It took my breath away, it hurt so bad. But I had to continue, I was teaching a student an entire role that she would dance in an hour, with an orchestra, in a last minute replacement for the original girl. In spite of a torn meniscus along with a horrible bone spur on my heel, I had to finish the year. I was behind in my mortgage. There was a lot at stake. Like many people in 2010, I had been working on a mortgage modification for two years. I literally couldn’t stand on one foot, or straighten the other leg. Even though I was crippled, I faked my way through teaching and finished the year as best I could. Ah, the glamour of ballet! I tell you all this just to inform you of how dedicated I was. I wanted to keep my home. Never, never, did I want to quit. What would I do? Who would I be? Where would I live? I had lived there 30 years. This was all I knew, ballet and the self perpetuating cycle of poverty and pain. Well, the universe took care of all that and everything went away within months.
To be continued…
Two years later: foreclosure, business closure, debts engulfed me like a tsunami, I had to move out of the hood. I had to leave. My only option was to live in my childhood home. It was available. In fact, this country house had been neglected for a decade. No one wanted to live there, isolated from the rest of the world. At least I could live there, instead of sleeping in my car. I still had a 15 year old car. Like dad had always said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” I was still drinking lemonade.