Quick Change on a Street Corner

 

A little slice of life piece that I wrote is included in “The Personal Issue: Essays and Memories”  over at the the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.  Sorry for the brevity of this blog post. Stacks and stacks and stacks of student essays are calling my name.

Happy reading!

http://www.deadmule.com/essays/quick-change-on-a-street-corner-by-a-j-tierney/

What I Can’t Throw Away

Another great writing exercise created by Steff: “What I Can’t Throw Away”

Prompt: What is the one piece of clothing (or a pair of shoes) that you know you will never wear again but you cannot bring yourself to throw it away and why. 20 minutes.

Each season I pull clothes out of my closet evaluating whether they should stay and be packed away or go in a black garbage bag headed for the Goodwill. I have long let go of the notion I will ever be a size 4 or 6 again. I am solidly a size 10-12 and I have come to embrace this reality. So I don’t hang on to clothes that are too tight. I’m too into comfort to be squeezing into jeans that I have to lay down to zip up. I’m no fashionista. I actually get most of my clothes as hand me downs from my sister so whatever was in style in 2010 is my style in 2013.

All this is to say I don’t hang on to clothes I won’t wear again. But there are a couple of things I haven’t been able to part with even though in all likelihood I’ll never wear them again. I’ve held on to all of my Irish step dancing costumes. And in all fairness to me, if the opportunity arose to do a show and tell about the skirts I could wear them and explain little details about the skirt. But my Irish dancing hard shoes are something I know that I will never wear again, but I can’t throw them away, give them away, or part with them in anyway.

My right foot is such a skeletal mess that even sliding on the shoe is a challenge. I just wanted to see if I could shuffle around a bit. Nothing too fancy, maybe just a cramp roll or some heel clicks. Not to be. I slid the shoe off and ran my hand over the broken in but still shiny leather remembering the last time I wore them during a performance at Oktoberfest. The performance where I came down wrong on a high kick and injured my foot, ankle, and knee but kept dancing on it.

So now I’m left with these scuffed, Irish hard shoes but can’t wear them. I turn them over and run my fingers over the engraved brand name of Rutherford on the sole. It looks like the name is hand-tooled into the leather. My name and phone number are written in a clear, legible print in case I ever forgot them at a performance- a holdover from the time my mom would write her name and phone number inside all of my dance shoes when I was little. I slide my hands into the shoes and clack the heels together simulating the action of my feet. I bend over and continue with a stomp and shuffle all as if my feet were dancing.

I lean back in my chair and let my mind drift back to moments dancing in competitions and pageants, hot and sweaty for hours in dance studios, auditioning for a spot in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and making the top 32, twirling around in a full nun’s habit as Sister Mary Leo, in a corset and pantaloons in the musical Oklahoma!, in a short can-can skirt, throwing my leg up as high as I could, high kick after high kick in Guys and Dolls, and my heavy straight arms nearly glued to my sides, as I executed near militaristic stomps, kicks, and jumps in unison with my Irish step dancing group.

I keep these shoes, these worn out and tired shoes, that I can no longer wear because they remind me of where I’ve been and the ground I’ve covered. The shoes represent the determination, persistence, and tenancity that I showed with every dance I had to master. When I have an “I can’t do this. It’s too hard” kind of day, I can look at my shoes and know that I can.

Irish Hard Shoes

On being a dancer…

Each week my writing buddy and I get together and choose a writing exercise from one of the many writing books that we have amassed between the two of us. Some weeks we will search for just the perfect exercise only to end up describing her dining room or backyard and maybe incorporate some dialogue. But about a month ago, we had a really great exercise. We were to think about a pleasure that is our very own then write for 20 minutes. I actually wrote about two things but have decided to just include my very own pleasure of dancing.

My very own pleasure is the heart-racing, sweat-inducing dancing that I used to do. I remember the feeling of being in my body, commanding it to pirouette and leap, plie and releve, shuff-le step, shuff-le step. Then, strike the last pose, my lines perfect. I was in control. Able to turn off my mind and escape from the world. This is my very own pleasure to feel my heart thud against my sternum and reverberate through my rib cage. My mind singularly focused on a spot in front of me to mark each revolution of my body, round and round.

My face reddened and sweaty a marked difference from my lily white chest and arms. I smile in the mirror, feel sweat roll down my temples and along my ears, softly panting, waiting for the music to begin again.

Once a dancer, always a dancer. 🙂