Mild Trigger Warning – This post series may contain some events that could be mild emotional triggers, especially for those who’ve experienced some form of stalking, rejection, or molestation.
A while back, I mentioned that I was writing a memoir in order to save past memories before they became too fuzzy in my mind. I’ve actually written a chunk of it. Draft chapters can be found by selecting “Story Series” in my Category list (on the right sidebar). The “Four Bouquets of Flowers” stories are ones I can’t quite fit into the memoir effectively, but wanted to write about, all the same.
Flower Bouquet # 1 of 4 – Scary teen experience
Soon after turning 15 years old, I was taking seven ballet classes each week, plus an eighth class, sometimes in Jazz or Modern dance. I had been studying ballet since I was 8 years old. My parents dreaded driving me to and from the studio, but it was my passion. It was also my social world, as I had few friends in regular school. I had endless energy and nearly every minute of my young life, including evenings and weekends, seemed to include music and dance. I remember feeling euphoric a lot of the time. I never wanted to stop performing. Other ballet students would go home, but I would often stay after classes and just dance for myself. The school owner allowed that.
At 15, I had been in the advanced level ballet classes for a couple years. Also, in these classes, were a handful of girls around my age, plus some female and male adults. The adults kind of stood out a bit, in my eyes. A couple were in their 20s, and a few as old as their 30s. I don’t recall the adults interacting with us teens that much, but we did partner with the older guys for certain ballet routines.
I recall a fellow teen dancer complained to her mother that one adult student’s dog laid stinky farts. For some reason, the school owner let the dog owner bring her dog to classes. I forget the owner’s name, but her dog was “Tippy”, and all my friends laughed about “Tippy’s farts”. Though I don’t recall smelling said farts, my friend did and claimed it made her sick. That friend’s mother eventually talked to the ballet teacher about the issue. The teacher passed the complaint on, but the owner was determined for Tippy to stay. We heard that she tried new dog food, but apparently it didn’t work. My friend’s mother complained again, and finally the dog stayed home.
I was, and have always been, a very gabby high-spirited gal. I always enjoyed story-telling, sometimes exaggerating bits. One day during one of my speeches, I declared that I once ate so many oranges that I overdosed on vitamin C. Overhearing this silly lie, an adult male, I’ll call “James”, challenged me on it saying approximately the following:
“So, what happened when you overdosed?” he asked.
Stunned that he was even listening, I replied “Well…I got really sick and threw up.”
“Oh, I see! That must have been really bad!”
“Yea, it was!” I emphatically stated, angered that he was challenging me about it.
Luckily, he backed off, or class started soon after.
James seemed to take an interest in me, from that point on. Or maybe before. I don’t quite remember. Anyway, I liked when people took an interest in me. I liked being a “Star of the Show”. I didn’t think it odd, despite him likely being in his early 30s.
I honestly don’t know how it came about, but James asked me if I’d like to see a particular thing in his apartment sometime. He had told me that he was a graduate of the Juilliard School of the Arts in New York City. Having auditioned for the School of American Ballet, also in Lincoln Center, I knew the prestige of Juilliard. I know he played some instrument. I don’t recall what it was, though, but maybe he offered to play it for me? In any case, I was interested. My family was musical. My uncle built harpsichords and played the banjo. My paternal grandfather played guitar and a trombone in a jazz band, Grand mom played piano and organ, my dad the bass, a cousin was a Dixie Land pianist.
I grew up “on the hill” within walking-distance of a pretty happening tourist town. The town was right across the river from an even more happening town in the next state over. I often walked there from home. Being a dancer, a few miles was like a hop skip and a jump from home. So, one day I guess I had made a “date” to see James’ instrument and hear him play.
James lived in a tiny apartment, which was only one block from the bridge on the other state’s side. I recall going in. I sort of recall him offering me a beverage and asking me to sit down on his sofa. However, the next thing I clearly recall is being extremely scared and heading for his door. He was beckoning me to stay, but I remember being desperate to leave. I remember rushing out and almost running across the bridge to my state’s side. I obviously made my way home. I am sure I said nothing at all to my parents about that visit.
Straining my brain really hard, I have a feeling that James sat quite close to me on the sofa and was perhaps rubbing my leg in a not-so-comfortable way. I also believe that, plus something he said, triggered my flight. It’s amazing how such facts can be so cloudy in one’s brain.
It must have been a day or two later that I saw James again. It was probably summertime, since I don’t recall attending school. I was nervous about going to ballet class because I might see him there. Sure enough, he was there. The moment I spotted him, he was looking right at me holding a large bouquet of flowers in his hand. I think I was frozen in my place. He walked towards me and extended his hand, holding the bouquet. He told me it was for me.
“I DON’T WANT IT!” I barked.
He insisted I take it.
I turned away and rushed off, as far from him as possible.
I think it was at that class that I managed to take the ballet teacher (school owner) aside and tell her about my discomfort. I don’t know how much detail I offered, but I remember that James no longer approached me again. I believe he may have attended a couple more classes, but that was it. I was very happy that he was gone and never returned.
To read Parts 2 & 3 of 4, click here.