I took ballet lessons as a little girl. I also took tap dancing (liked the clicking, not the dancing), acrobatics (loved it but sucked), girl scouts (stuck it out til middle school), piano (always), ceramics (liked, but not loved), soccer (one dreadful season), swimming lessons (didn't work), and on and on. I am very grateful to my mom for letting us experiment as children, trying things until we stumbled upon our callings. Mine, at the time, was piano, so that's what I did, all through high school, even competing in geeky piano competitions. But most memorable was my flirtation with ballet.
I think I was in kindergarten or maybe even younger. I was little. I liked dressing in the pretty costumes. I dug the pink shoes with ribbons, although I could never get them tied so they weren't too tight or too loose. I remember nothing at all about the dancing, which makes sense if you've ever seen me dance. I also remember, oh so vividly, my one ballet recital. If there was more than one, it doesn't matter -- THIS was the one that mattered. We were told the theme was animals/bugs. We were to choose which animal/bug we wanted to be, and I remember making sure it was REALLY our choice. After confirming this, I announced that I was going to be a dog house.
Yes, that's right.
A dog house.
Never mind that I've never had a dog in my whole entire life, but where the heck did that come from? No one knew, nor could anyone persuade me that a dog house didn't count as an animal. So a dog house I was. My mom and dad took a giant moving box (we moved every 4 years as a kid, so we had a lot of those around) and cut out arm holes and a head hole. My dad devised an elaborate cardboard "roof" over my head. Then we painted it white with a red roof. It might have even had green accents. So on the day of the recital, I proudly lumbered around the dance studio wearing a dog house, all the other little girls dressed as butterflies, bumblebees, lions, and other cutesy stuff. But. I was the ONLY one with a dog house. I rocked.
The only drawback was I had to take it off to actually "dance", but that didn't bother me a bit, I was wearing what I'm sure was a perfectly coordinated leotard underneath. I just pranced around until I could put my "costume" back on. I was the hit of the show. Laughing was good, wasn't it?
After the recital, we couldn't just let the magnificent dog house go to waste, now could we? So we did the logical thing -- my dad built a treehouse in the backyard with a wooden floor and -- you got it -- the doghouse exterior. I spent many a happy summer day huddled up in that cardboard box, sweat dripping down my body, squishing ants and avoiding locusts, learning about the pure joy of solitude. My sis and brother were too little to come up after me, so it was my perfect little hiding place.
The weather eventually broke down the cardboard, but the treehouse remained until the tree died years later. My love of solitude has never died.
Thank you mom and dad, for letting a spunky little girl have her way. That was way cool.