We spent last week down in Orlando, visiting Jon’s family for a big celebration. His grandfather turned 90 years old and his grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. There was a big party filled with all sorts of relatives in a beautiful garden. Let me tell you, nothing makes you appreciate your youth more than spending New Year’s Eve with a bunch of octogenarians.
Since we were down in Mickeytown, we hit up some parks, but avoided Magic Kingdom because we’d heard the crowds were ridonkulous with the opening of the new Fantasyland.
Lest we let our kids suffer character withdrawal, we compromised by making a reservation at Cape May Cafe for a character breakfast our last morning in town.
Say what you will about buffets, but I love the food here. Little mini-waffles shaped like Mikey Mouse! Five different types of egg dishes! Buttermilk biscuits so rich they’ll give you a coronary!
The kids loved stalking Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy and went nuts every time one of them passed by. I feel fairly confident that Miss P goosed Donald in a effort to get his attention.
But my favorite part of the experience? Meeting our waitress.
As I got to talking to her, I discovered that she was a retired dancer. And the former Dance Division
nerd Specialist in me jumped out and started prodding her with all sorts of questions. Hearing her story. Wishing I could have lived that life.
Working in the stacks of one of the most prestigious dance collections in the world, I came across some pretty amazing people. Sure, I ran in to some crazies too. But the older dancers had such fantastic backgrounds. Some of them came in to volunteer, and once they’d start in on their tales, I couldn’t help but listen. Even if I’d heard that story a few times already.
The dancers of that generation seem to have had a blast. There was more work. Work that took them places. Places more exotic than the L train to some sketchy loft-turned-studio in Bushwick.
Living here in Ohio, the dance community seems so spread out, so sparse, so disconnected. I long for that feeling of community. That satisfaction of working. And, to some degree, the aches and pains that come with working your body too hard for too long.
One day, I’ll finally be able to let go of this feeling that I’m a shell of a dancer. An imposter. A fake. A phoney. Either I’ll find motivation to jump back in to the studio, or I’ll feel ready to say goodbye.
Whatever happens, whenever that is, I hope one day I’ll come across a stranger 30 years younger than me and find out we have this art form in common. That she may want to ask me questions about my career. And that I’ll be able to answer her with a smile on my face, a fond look in my eye, and have the warmth to take a photo with her.