Tapped Out


I was sitting here pondering what I should write about tonight and the phone burped out the double-buzz that means “you got a text.” I looked at it and it was from The Fish, one of my oldest and dearest friends. She was my Grateful Dead show-going, University of Alabama sometimes-class-going-but-mostly-learning-from-college-life, bail me out of jail when I was busted for drunk driving, listened to all my insanity over the years, probably knows me better than anyone, yada-yada, and on and on, sometimes we’ve not spoken for years, she’ll probably be in the room when I die (she’ll be the one with a bloody knife in her hand haha) friend. The text message simply said, “THE BLOG!” This is why I need friends. I love the way my friends support and encourage me. Writing is a lone wolf activity and I am a pack animal. I need her. I need them– my pack, my tribe, my angels, my friends.
I texted her back and asked, “What should I write about?” The double-buzz just happened again. She wrote, “Tap shoes.” I said out loud to myself, “Oh no.” And then I texted “oh no” to her.

I’m not really sure where she came up with that or what she means. But I am sure that Spirit is alive and at work and I knew immediately what the message meant, even if she doesn’t.

My mom had an old white pair of tap shoes from when she was a teenager. They’d been tucked away in her cedar chest for years until I talked her into pulling them out when I bought a pair in college. I was well into my first undergraduate degree (which took thirteen years) before I declared a minor. That’s a whole other story for another time. In short, one of my acting teachers “sentenced” me to dance class because my body is big and I didn’t know what to do with it on stage. I fell in love with Dance and ultimately declared it as a minor. I wasn’t the first big, less-than-graceful non-dancer to take a dance class at Alabama. Bear Bryant used to send his players to help them learn to be more graceful on the field. Clearly it worked. Anyway, like I said, another story for another blog. Point is I started to dance. And I studied a few different kinds– ballet, jazz, modern (my favorite)– but it wasn’t until I was cast in a Summer Stock production of Singing in the Rain that I got my first pair of tap shoes. That was when mom mentioned that she still had hers and I talked her into bringing them out. On weekends when I would come home for a visit, she and I would get out on the front porch and do simply combinations together. When that show ended, I hung up my tap shoes and sadly my duets with Mom ended too. Why didn’t we keep going? What I wouldn’t give for just one more.

I talked her into letting me take her tap shoes with me when I graduated and moved to California. My intention was to get them cast in silver. I never did. They stayed in a box and then the box moved to Salt Lake with me. I had stacks and closets full of “some day” stuff like that. When my marriage ended my life turned upside down. I had no idea what I would do next. I had been operating on one plan for six or seven years; now I had to rethink everything. I decided to ship a lot of the stuff that I thought would one day be part of my one-day home with Adam back to Alabama until I could sort things out. I got four big UHaul crates, you know that kind that sit in the driveway until you fill them up and they come with a forklift and ship them to the next destination.

When I saw that all the stuff wouldn’t fit, I just started throwing it all away. I was sick of looking at the wreckage of my life and so I just got a big construction dumpster and began tossing stuff left and right. I threw away a 100-year-old Prince of Wales sofa that had needed repair for years (God, I wish I had that sofa now) and all sorts of other valuable things that fell into the “one day” category. Some boxes I threw away without even opening. I just wanted out of that house with its bad memories and out of Salt Lake City. I haven’t seen my Iraq videotapes in a while. I think I accidently threw them out. I’m horrified at the thought. I also threw out Mom’s shoes. I’d destroyed them by– oh that’s right, I remember now! I wasn’t going to have them cast in silver, I was going to repair them. But the stuff I used to strip the old polish basically destroyed the leather and then I tried to paint them with some kind of shoe paint– yeah, yeah, that’s what I was going to do; I was going to fix them and give them back to Mom as a present, hoping for more duets. But I’d never gotten around to finishing the job and my attempt to fix them had just done more damage (what a metaphor!) I somehow made myself feel okay about it when I was tossing them in that big metal receptacle of broken dreams– that I would just buy her a spiffy new pair for Christmas– which, being a loser, I never did. I regret that. So much.

Okay, enough self-flagellation for one night. Dwelling on the mistakes of the past is useless except for when it helps us to make better decisions now. If I could go back there is a lot I’d do more skillfully but this is the reality that I have to go with now. I have to make the best of it.

I was in a good mood! Thanks Fish!

Oh! I see now where she had texted, “Or pasta carbonara or butterflies.” Wish I’d seen that earlier. Those would have probably left me in a better humor. Nah. There’s no mistakes. Mom had a hand in tonight’s blog topic, I’m sure of it. And I’m sure Mom forgives me more than I forgive myself. How do I make amends? I don’t really know. My tap shoes are still in there in the closet somewhere. Maybe I’ll pull them out tomorrow and hit the front porch just for old time sake. But duets are no fun with only one person.

See y’all tomorrow.

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