Today, I flew. No, not in an airplane.
Once upon a time, I was a chubby little girl. Chubby little girls who pranced around in ballet tutus at dance classes got laughed at. A lot. In my leotard and tights, I resembled a pink sausage with knock-knees.
I am still knock-kneed and I am still chubby, but I have finally reached an age where it’s more acceptable to be softer and rounder. People no longer laugh at me. Well, not to my face.
For some reason, recently I have been the only student in my afternoon Pilates class. I’m not complaining. It’s like a private lesson for me and this teacher, Cami, knows me well. She’s taught this class for at least a year. She knows what I can and cannot do. My limits, my weaknesses, and my strengths.
She never pushes me to do something that will hurt my wonky knees, my stiff neck, or my lower back. Today, she had me lie on the foam roller on top of one of the machines. Balanced there, one leg in the air at a 45º angle, and at the same time, raising my arm on the opposite side, I could feel the roller rocking under me. Unstable, but I held steady. Then, I had to change feet and lift the other arm. No could do. Though I tried and concentrated really hard, but I couldn’t do it. Today, I had a weak side.
Next, she had me balance like a circus performer, leaning laterally and pushing down a pedal with a stiff arm as my feet pivoted up and my free arm stood straight up in the air. Dangling there for a few seconds before dropping my feet and free arm, using gravity to help me raise the pedal and return me to a seated position. Six on each side.
“I’m going to try out for Cirque du Soleil,” I told her. She laughed.
Then, she went to the reformer, a machine with a moving platform and tension springs. She repositioned the foot bar and covered it with a black springboard. I had seen people use the springboard before. Younger women. Skinny women with knees that don’t buckle. They used it for jumping. Surely, I wasn’t going to be jumping.
I lay down on the reformer platform and Cami instructed me where to put my feet, in the form of a “V,” while my knees jutted out to the sides.
We started with a few little test bounces before she told me to jump. In ballet “first position,” I extended my legs, pushed away, and leaped off the board, the platform carrying me backward, until the springs pulled me in again, and I landed in my original froggy position.
I’d had no idea that I could fly, but again and again, I sailed through the air with a smile on my face, feeling like Tinkerbell on a good day. Powerful, yet light.
It’s a feeling I want to savor and enjoy. And on days when I feel neither powerful nor light, to remember to put on my wings and hoist my magic wand because I can fly.