I love the performing arts.
When I was five I wanted my mom to take me to Sesame Street so I could hang out with Big Bird ‘n ’em. I was like, “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?” But she was like, “I don’t know how to get to Sesame Street,” so I was out of luck.
I saw “Grease” on the plane from the States to Italy (my dad was in the Air Force), and I fell in love with John Travolta. Did people dance and sing in high school? I couldn’t wait to be in high school! I wanted to change my name to Olivia (for Olivia Newton-John) when I grew up, because Tracie was too plain. Or I would consider changing it to Diana (for Diana Ross) or Donna (for Donna Summer) because they were so beautiful and had great voices and long, lustrous afros. I was thrilled when my dad was stationed in Crete, because it was an island off the coast of Greece (I heard “Grease”). I expected all the people to dance and sing, and drive cars that looked like greased lightning.
My arrival in Crete was quite disappointing.
The next big thing was “Fame.” I had seen the movie (not something I should’ve seen at the tender age of 9), and I loved Irene Cara. Here again were these people singing and dancing in high school! I decided I would change my name to Coco when I grew up, or something equally feminine and nick-namey. I sang the body electric. I celebrated the me yet to come. And when the TV show came out, I had big dreams. I wanted Fame. I was willing to pay in sweat. (More dancing highschoolers too). I told everyone who asked that I wanted to be a singer, an actress and a dancer when I grew up.
I also knew all the dance moves from Thriller.
Of course, by the time I got to high school I knew my dreams were childish. I was in the show choir, and though it was synchronized dancing and singing, it was practiced and choreographed. What the … ! We did occasionally come close, though. Some of my most fun and memorable high school moments were spent with other kids who loved to sing. We’d hang out between or after choir class with Ms. Wcislo, the music teacher, and just sing. She was the coolest choir director ever, because she let us–encouraged us–to sing.
Fast forward about 20 years. My family and I have watched “Hairspray” about 97 times today. When I first saw “Hairspray” in the movies with two girlfriends, we danced our way out of the theater. I think they were humoring me, but I would’ve loved to actually break out in synchronized dance and song without having practiced first. (I think the Holy Spirit could totally make that happen.) I know I’m too old to fantasize about such things. But I still wish there could be songs that everyone knows, instinctive dancing that erupts from everyone’s spirit through the passion of the moment. I’d love for that to happen at my work place. I bet Makeda and April would join me. In fact, I bet just about everybody would join in! Even Pastors Troy and Penny.
And I know I could still dance like that even though I’m 35. I probably couldn’t jump as high anymore, and I’d be out of breath and inordinately sweaty at the end of it, but I could totally do it.