All week I had been feeling a little stressed. Due to extra to-do items, I hadn’t gotten to do all the things I usually do: I missed a couple days of running, I missed a day of singing, I didn’t make it to the library, and I had to skip yoga altogether. I just felt an overall sense of dissatisfaction. I felt fidgety that I had less time to do my normal routine and found it was taking a toll on my body physically in my dancing, sleeping, and just as a whole. And when my body is unhappy, my being is unhappy.
So when 2:30pm rolls around on Thursday afternoon and I am gingerly flap-heeling my way into the studio to begin a tap class with my fave homeboy Randy Skinner, I am in heaven and life is again looking like a bowl of strawberries, which are far better than cherries. I cheerfully tighten my head scarf (which oddly enough has cherries on them, now that I think about it), adorn my eager body with my trusty green skirt a la Vera Ellen in “Abraham” (if you haven’t seen it, youtube it...the dancing, not the skirt), and dust off the daily residue of the morning’s audition. And as Randy commands the big band music my soul has been so coveting, my entire body is in bliss. My heart is so full and happy, my breath is so at ease and yet encompassing, and as we get to the second song of the warm up, toes tapping and heels dropping, I just can’t help but close my eyes in gratitude.
And then my shoe breaks.
Yep. It just breaks. Falls right off my foot, the stupid piece of S&%?. I stop dancing and just look down at it, dumbfounded. For minutes. The music is still playing, Randy is still singing with his taps, the entire room is still answering his calls, and I’m standing in the back row just staring at my naked right foot. It takes me an entire song to bend over and pick up the stupid pink shoe. It takes me another song to, still holding it dumbfoundedly, admit that it is broken. It takes another half of a song to walk over to my bag and search for a safety pin, the second half of the song to realize that I don’t have one, the pause in the music to understand that it doesn’t matter anyway because a safety pin wouldn’t go through the leather even if I had one, and then the next 16 bars to realize that the only other shoes I have with me are four pairs of pointe shoes from that morning’s audition and my flip flops. I spend the next verse wondering if I should take class barefoot and by the end of the chorus am sheepishly picking up my bags and blinking my watery eyes, trying not to be noticed as I awkwardly hug the wall making my pathetic way toward the door that will soon separate me from the cool people. I unwillingly shut the door behind me, lean my head up against it trying to tell myself that I did the right thing because to take a tap class without TAP shoes (or any shoes) would be heartbreaking, but then quickly realize that nothing is as heartbreaking as having to walk by the big observation window and have to take one more glimpse of the bouncing, beaming bodies led by my main obsession of a man, Mr. Skinner. And as I slowly and begrudgingly trudge down the hallway and up the stairs, one lonely and loyal tap shoe on and one disappointing and defiant tap shoe off, I eventually make my way up to the desk where, after I hold up my tattered shoe, I am told that I cannot get my money back because it is just past the cutoff.
As I slowly get dressed, I wonder how it happened. “Why did it break?,” I whisper. “Did I put it on too eagerly? Did I tug at it too much as I fastened it?” As I mope down the street, heading to the subway, I quietly plea, “How could this happen? I just wanted to take a tap class with Randy.” And as I cross the street, my thoughts start to shift toward those of anger. “It’s not like I want a million dollars,” I say to myself. “I just wanted to enjoy an hour and half of flapping fun, for heaven’s sake! It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Geez!” I realize I have managed to subconsciously finagle my hand into my bag and am now clutching my right tap shoe, the problematic one, and looking at it with disapproving eyes.
It is then that I realize that I am...mad.
And then the whirlwind of confusion starts: “Why am I mad???? It’s just a stupid tap shoe. It can be fixed. I can put it on my to-do list and take it in to get it fixed. Easy as that. In the meantime, I can wear my other taps. So, forget it, Deanna.”
But then this dialogue starts: “Why didn’t I bring an extra pair of tap shoes??? Then I could have taken class! Why didn’t I come more prepared???”
My rebuttal: “You didn’t bring an extra pair of tap shoes because you already had four pairs of pointe shoes, your songbook, your going downtown subway reading book, your going uptown subway reading book, extra dance clothes, make-up, good thing I don’t brush my hair so no brush, but also tea, TMJ-causing gum, and a nectarine. That’s why.”
And as the day progressed, or regressed as it seemed, I went from being mad to confused to confused about being mad to mad about being confused to just plain exhausted. I became mad at myself for not being “prepared” with an extra pair of tap shoes, and then realized that was stupid to be mad at myself for that. Which then made me mad at myself. And as I realized that I was mad at myself for being mad at myself, that just made me even more mad at myself. Which led to, well, you get where this is going.
It wasn’t until today that I realized why I was really mad.
You see, today I set out for my normal Inwood jog, one that I do at least twice a week, but of course this week only once due to the time crunch. Feeling like this would be the turning point to the week, I knew that everything would get back to usual. And as I plugged my ears with my earbuds, set my timer, started my running app, and went to press play on my normal Inwood podcast (you see, I listen to sermons from my favorite pastor in KC on these jogs because it works perfectly--they are 45 minutes of perfectly synchronized spiritual inspiration and 4- and 5-minute increments of walking/running that finish at the exact same time!!!! Perfect planning, Deanna!!!!), I realize that for some reason my phone won’t download the sermon!
“What????? There must be some mistake. I’ll try again.”
No luck. Ugh. So for the first lap I am really annoyed: “Again? Really? I just wanted to jog to a sermon. I’m not asking to star in a Broadway show, God, seriously. You don’t even want me to listen to a sermon???”
The second lap, with still no download, becomes, in a rude tone: “Ok, fine. I’ll figure something else out.”
After enduring another lap of stubborn silence, earbuds awkwardly still in ears, I decide to turn on Pandora. Reluctantly I listen to my favorite (ironic, I know) station. And step by step, song by song, I realize why I had been mad. Not just about the sermon not downloading but about the stupid tap shoe, as well.
I was mad because it just wasn’t what I had planned. It was an unexpected change of plans. And I just didn’t like that. It was a bad surprise. A bump in the road. A twist. And I let twenty-four hours go by being upset about a tap shoe. Now THERE is a reason to be mad at myself. A tap shoe. A missed tap class. Really, Deanna? All that negative energy over a stupid pink tap shoe.
I think of all the other times in my life things have gone awry and I am grateful that yesterday was just a tap shoe. It could have been so much worse. Losing my grandmother. Being fired from a job. Getting served divorce papers. Growing up fatherless. Being threatened to be sued. Getting stabbed in the back by a close friend. Having a family member diagnosed with a rare disease.
I don’t know why my tap shoe broke. Or why the sermon didn’t download. Sometimes, things happen. And we can’t explain it. And no matter how much we plan, no matter how much we control, no matter how many pairs of shoes we carry around with us, sometimes it’s still out of our control. Life happens. And everyday that goes by, I am being asked one question: “How resilient are you?”
My answer: Sometimes I don’t feel resilient at all. I cry. I furrow my brow. I stumble. I get knocked down. I become dumbfounded. And I have this severe and aching desire to just be held and taken care of. And told that everything is okay. And that everything will be okay.
But the truth is, everything won’t be okay. Things will happen. And tomorrow I will again be asked, “How resilient are you?”
And I think I have to answer as this: I’ve made it through life so far. I’m still walking. No, not just walking. I’m still dancing. Or at least trying to dance. And that’s what shows that I am resilient. That I am still showing up for class. I show up for class in hopes of hearing that music. And tapping my toes. And, yes, sometimes things happen that keeps us from dancing at that moment. A sermon doesn't download. Or our tap shoe breaks. But if my pretty little pink tap shoe thinks it’s going to stop me from showing up to the next Randy Skinner class, it has another thing coming.