One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. STOP. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. STOP. One, two, three, four…if anyone could hear me counting in my head right now, they’d think I was crazy. Or at least somewhere on the spectrum. Anyone getting on or off the train might think I’m some kind of model. Or just another girl suffering from body issues who either eats too little or vomits too much. Or both.
In reality, I’m a dancer. Specifically, I’m a ballet dancer, and I’ve been dancing since I was about eight-years-old. At first, it was the thought of wearing pretty, frilly (and often pink) garbs that drew me in. Then, I got really obsessed with the stories behind the moves. But eventually, like most other people I dance with, I just got obsessed. With perfection. With getting the best parts.
Tonight’s dance was mesmerizing, enveloping. And as I leaped and twirled and stretched lines with my body to impossible lengths, my mind filled with a joy and light I search for longingly everywhere else. I forgot who I was. Everything I knew before that dance melted away, and the unknowable future I always fear seemed like something distant and ephemeral. Like it would never touch me. Like I was safe.
The dance was now, and I honestly wished I could die as soon as it ended. Because I knew the obsession, the oppressive silence would wash away all that light and joy I felt on stage once the song was done. And I’d only be left with this incessant counting.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. STOP. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. STOP. One, two, three, four…if I’m not dancing, I’m living in a prison of my own making. Counting to the rhythm of a dance I wish I were in. Trapped in an existence I know I have to endure. There is nothing left for me but to dance and wish for death; and to stop and wish for peace.