The morning bus ride to the studio was always the worst. I stared at my reflection in the window and articulated the bun on the top of my head, pulling bobby pins out of my clenched teeth to secure my hairdo. I was dreading class. Ms. B had recently made me aware that, while I could put on a captivating performance, my turnout sucked, and so did my arch. The combination of the two was causing severe tendinitis in my knees, and my feet were taking an extra beating. Already, I’d twice had toe surgery. I got to thinking that after thirteen years of blood, sweat, and tutus, I wasn’t exactly sure why I was dedicating myself to ballet anymore. I also got to thinking about how badly I needed a coffee.
I got to the corner of Seneca and 2nd Avenue and filed in line off the bus and into Starbucks where I couldn’t help but notice the glass case glowing next to me. It was filled with fresh doughy bagels, cupcakes that oozed frosting, and scones covered in a glittering glaze. Foods that Ms. B always blamed when one of the girls in my class got her period or grew a pair of tits.
“Hi, welcome to Starbucks! What can I get for you?”
“I’ll just have a tall skinny vanilla latte, please.”
“Will that be all for you today?” The barista’s cheery smile and cheesy demeanor irritated me. I glanced again at the illuminated case. Each baked treat laughed out loud at the leotard that clung to my body like a cancer.
“Yep, that’ll be all,” I replied shortly while fumbling through my purse for my wallet. My fingers grazed the small Tupperware container that held my breakfast: nine almonds and a sliced apple. Bird food.
Next thing I knew, I was in the coffee shop bathroom. I tore out of my leotard. My tights were suffocating so I ripped those off, too. The bun that I had so carefully put in place became non-existent as my hair tumbled down my back. Everything went in the garbage, including my $200 pointe shoes.
It’s been eight years since I was inside a ballet studio. My permanently demented toes and achy knees are a constant reminder of the passion I once had for dance. I truly miss it.
But I’m a writer now. I can eat whatever the fuck I want.