Originally published Monday, 06 January 2014.
So much of a ballerina's time is spent waiting.
We'd have to stay very quiet in the dark corridors, so quiet that we'd almost forget to breathe. Our excitement would catch in our chests. And though our director could keep our mouths and voices from moving, he couldn't keep our feet still.
So we'd twirl and "warm up our muscles" in the back. Which really was code for showing off how flexible we were. We'd dip the tops of our toes in the sharp crumbs of rosin on the floor that would keep the wooden blocks we called pointe shoes from slipping on stage.
We'd be waiting every where. We'd be waiting in the dressing room. Waiting for the curtain call. Waiting for the audience to trickle in, an amoeba hungry for culture and movement. Expression and costumes.
We'd wait until we heard our stage manager tell us, "Five minutes, ladies!"
"Thank you, Miss Ellie," we'd all reply.
Our hearts would be racing as we waiting in the wings. Finally with the realization of many people are in the audience. Strangers with odd, unfamiliar faces had paid to see us perform.
Then we'd wait for the moment the recorded music over the loud speaker would swell to a scratching start. Tchaikovsky's the Nutcracker beginning with the swell of the stringed orchestra.
Our cue would come, and we'd leap lively onto the stage. Sure of our presence. Our moves burned into our muscles. Our smiles, our feet, our arms and feet moving together. Lifting, gracing, obeying the music and the months of our direction.
It was worth the early mornings. The stress. The sweat. The itchy ballet tights and the bruised toes. We were dancing in the Nutcracker. We had arrived. We were performing a tradition. Our heads were caked with Aquanet, and our hair was pinned in twenty-thousand different ways. But our names were in the program.
We arrived when the music called us on the stage.
A lot can happen in the space between Christmases. Between Nutcracker performances.
So much change completes each year, in the space we set aside between the bookmarks of new birth in a manger. Between the time we raise our hands in churches across the nation. Singing, glory to God in the highest–and on earth peace. Good will toward men.
And then, some things remain the same, too. Some of us are still single. In the same place. Same job. Same living situation. We feel like we're waiting in the wings. Waiting for the music and our lives to start.
It's hard for me not to notice it. The odd number of place settings around the table. Celebrating with budding families. Holding babies who belong to people younger than you. Buying cocktail dresses and signing away RSVP cards to wedding after wedding.
It seems like no one else in the world is waiting in the wings. It feels like you're waiting by yourself. And that no one else on stage even notices you have missed your cue.
A new family begins, and another heart simultaneously rejoice and breaks a little. It's a true miracle, how the two events can collide so beautifully in the same single woman's heart.
Even if you have a new job that you're grateful for. Even if you're living in the comfort of your childhood home. Even if you're not entirely alone. Or have anything in your life to be disappointed or depressed about.
It's probably attributed to a first world problem. Being single during the holidays.
I get it. I do. It's a very selfish thing to wonder: when is it my turn? When does my ring finger get to twinkle like the top of a Christmas tree? When do I get to start Christmas traditions of my own? Will I always be living under the umbrella of my family's traditions?
When will it be my turn to step on stage and into the spotlight? To enjoy performing after rehearsing for so long?
I've read a lot of "how to survive Christmas if you're single" articles this season. The ones I've read, ironically, have been written by those who are married.
I appreciate their advice to be sincere. To be honest with our relatives. To be brave in the face of the questions about our futures.
But, it's hard to take advice from those who have their happy endings. It's hard to swallow those morsels of wisdom from people who aren't wondering and wandering through the wings.
From the people who have already been cued on the stage. From those who are already players in the game. From the people who are no longer waiting.
For the rest of us, amidst the love of my family, the love of my savior, the lights, the twinkle, the hot chocolate–the wondering, the longing is still there.
Girls just like me, whether they're in relationships or not. Wondering when the music is going to call their names. To relationships. To motherhood. To their stunning careers. To their publishing deals...
Patience is hard. What's even more difficult is praising through the patience. Suppressing the longing to perform, to play our part on the stage, and thanking God for the new birth, the change around each of us.
And for our Savior being born.
But I think if we take a moment to rest and wonder in love outside of what we want for ourselves, our time on stage might be even more passionate.
The wait in the wings might make us better performers, after all.