It’s only when I close my eyes that I can really see them. They’re warm and fresh and soft to the touch, and their voices and words are the same: just as I remember them.

I wonder, sometimes, if this makes them less real.

There is a man whom I haven’t seen since he left, over a year ago. There is a boy I loved, loved, loved so much that I never found the courage to tell him. There are friends whose tears were physical injuries, and whose smiles were like sunshine on a winter morning. There are teachers who were mentors, disciplinarians and trusted friends all at once. There is a small valley full of smiles, nestled in between low stone hills aeons old, a valley whose air is a dusty gold and which has very little water and less connectivity, where I lived for four wonderful years and loved every minute.

I see all this and more, hear all this and so much more, when I shut my eyes. For the moment, they are so real that it makes me ache.

And then I open my eyes, and they are still there, like echoes of a lovely voice that refuses to be forgotten, even when the show is over and life must begin again. In that moment, when they are flickering, not quite there yet present beyond doubting, they are more real than they ever were.

I feel the sorrow if having moved on, and the keener happiness of having known them, and knowing that they are always there.

tell me, darling, do you sometimes feel that people are more real when they aren’t there?



I once told someone something along the lines of “When you’re dancing like that, at that level… it’s like your body doesn’t belong to you anymore.” And they were like “Whaa…?”

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I meant by that. I think I probably said that it in this brief moment of clarity or knowledge or insight, or whatever… well, that moment’s long since gone, but I still know that whatever it was, I meant something real and important to me… and as with most things which are that real and important, it was so much bigger.

So here I am, trying to figure out what I meant about a year ago while speaking to my friend about a ballet we’d been shown, and dance in general. I think I tacked on that last part in my comment and my thoughts, because our discussion just stuck to ballet, but for me, it kind of grew, and my thoughts and perceptions sort of latched on to everything else I knew and thought about dancing.

I’ve danced all my life- well, since I was five and a half, really- and according to my parents, loved it for even longer, because the only time their noisy, wild second baby (that’s me, by the way) ever sat still and really seemed to absorb what was going on around her was when they took me to a dance programme. And I got enrolled in a dance class early- I wasn’t supposed to start till I was seven, but my parents tell me that I cried so much to go that they ended up taking me to the nearest dance class (which was a pretty good one) and telling the teacher to just make me feel like I was dancing, for two years. Yeah, I just found that out today, and I’m seventeen.

SO… back to the topic. I’m going to just try and trace the events leading up to that conversation, and maybe I can get somewhere from there. We were being shown ‘Swan Lake’, and although ballet isn’t really my thing, I really enjoyed it… and I was speaking to this friend of mine, and he said:

“It was actually really indecent.”

And naturally, having exactly opposite thoughts, I asked: “Why do you think so?”

He replied: “The way they were holding each other… and it’s indecent for a guy to wear things like that.”

I think it was then that I came out with the line that effectively ended the conversation, because I was clearly (to him) off my rocker, and (in my mind) on my own trip.

Yes, tracing things like this was a good idea. I now have a fairly clear picture of what I was thinking.

I was thinking, at that time, that when you dance at that level- and by level, I don’t mean just the professional level, but also expertise, and maybe even that level of passion- it’s not your body that counts, but your heart and soul, both of which you bring to your performance when you dance. On a professional level, you have to wear what the costume designer gives you. On an expertise level, you’re doing such complicated moves that require such tight and/or sheer clothing. And when passion comes into the picture… you would be so immersed in your role, in your art, that you could be given a sack and you’d still be the Romeo that the audience loves. It wouldn’t be about what you’re wearing, or even about the moves you so  effortlessly perform with your body: it would be about you, dancing not with your body, but with your soul, and creating a character that stays with those who watch you.

I guess this, all rolled together, was what I was trying to say to my friend that day. Well, poor guy, no wonder he went “Whaa…?”.