08 / 365 – Long-Distance Dancing


Now Leah wants to dance again. Just what I need, on top of everything else. As if I had the money for dancing, to be begin with, which I don’t. And I doubt there’s a dance studio anywhere between here and Grand Forks. If there’s even one there, worth driving ninety miles to. Who picks a hobby where you have to drive halfway across the state to do it? Sometimes I think she forgets we don’t live in a city anymore. That’s not true, I think it’s on her mind all the time.

When we left Boston and she had to leave the studio where she had first started — she started dancing when she was just three … is that crazy or what, dancing when you’re three? Three years old and she could barely stand up and she’s twirling and falling down and they call that dance. They had recitals in this nice auditorium they rented out near Back Bay and they put them in these crazy expensive costumes and they just stood there in the lights and looked totally confused. Why do we do that? But she did get better, she was pretty good by the time she was six or seven, doing it a few days a week. And then, when we moved, I think that was the hardest thing of all, leaving that studio, I think it was her safe place, leaving all her friends, leaving that teacher she had had all those years, one of the few good constant things during that time, with me working and Erik coming and going and disappearing to do god knows what. Moving here was hard for me, too. I mean, there’s nothing in Massachusetts that would prepare you for a little town like this where there’s nothing around you for miles and miles and miles and you can see that far so you always know it. But I felt even worse about what this meant for her. She didn’t want to move because she didn’t want to leave the studio. I said, ’We’ll find another one,’ but she said if she couldn’t dance with her friends, she didn’t want to do it ever again. I was scared to death, how was she going to survive this? I had a good idea what we were in for — we had visited a couple of times over all the years. Erik said, What are you worrying about? I have sisters, she’ll have cousins. You think something is wrong with them? But what is there, really? She’s learned how to skate, since there isn’t anything around here that isn’t frozen solid. She used to be so excited about dancing, wanting to go see the ballet, wanting to get to the studio after school. Now, what? She wants a video game for the TV. We don’t even get any channels on the damned TV but we’re gonna have games. And she’ll sit in the living room in front of the TV and play games. It will be like she no longer is everywhere.

I was trying to say no to the video game and so then she said, OK, she wants to dance again. I can’t win with her. I feel like telling Erik, you take her. You said this would be easy. You said there was plenty for girls to do in North Dakota — what did he think all the girls did? — all the cousins. Hanging out and getting bored and in trouble. But a lot of good that’ll do, telling him to take her, even though I have no idea what he is doing now. This town is so small, you’d think I would know. He’ll say he’s busy working, but what does he do? But he’ll say he’s busy, he can’t take her. Of course he probably wouldn’t even notice if she was sitting in his house playing a video game all day. So I’m stuck. If I don’t take her, she won’t get to dance. And she’ll be one of those kids I hear about who has no friends and who just plays video games. I lose either way.


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