Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Twenty

Joanna “Jo” Bailey began taking dance lessons when she was five. Her father got transferred to another state not long afterwards, and her dance lessons stopped because they couldn’t find a decent dance studio in their new town. But when she was eleven, her mother discovered a new studio run by an accredited instructor. Jo was enrolled there that fall. She took ballet, tap, and jazz, eventually earning her own teaching certificate by the time she was seventeen.

Her life completely consumed by her passion for dance, she didn’t marry despite having a good number of men who tried to catch her. She didn’t quite have the ideal body for a dancer: she had a little too much in the bust and was just a bit too thickly-built to really be the kind of dancer who made watcher breathless. That is not to say she was unattractive-- far from it. But the combination of her build and the touch of clumsiness she had kept her from making it big as a performer. Performance wasn’t the life she wanted anyway. At age twenty-eight, she had saved up enough money to open her own dance studio.

Students flocked to her as a teacher. Even if she wasn’t a performance-quality dancer, she was a teacher of great certification, and she held her students to a high standard that most parents found admirable. A handful of her first students stayed with her for years, eventually earning their own teaching certificates. One eventually went to Broadway and managed to get onto the stage there.

By the time she had had her studio for nearly ten years, Jo had achieved a contentment with her life most people can only dream of. In the summer, when her studio was closed to coincide with the school year, she spent a week in the country with a childhood friend. While horseback riding (a passion shared by her and her friend) something spooked the mare Jo was riding, and the animal threw her, despite Jo’s riding ability. She landed off the trail, twisting her back badly against a fallen tree.

Numerous surgeries kept her from being completely paralyzed. But they couldn’t repair everything. Even after all the procedures and months upon months of rehabilitation, Jo could hardly walk anymore. Dancing was out of the question. Getting out of her wheelchair took great effort.

Since she had moved to a larger city away from her parents to open her studio, she had grown somewhat distant with her family. She and her parents and brother were still on very good terms, but eventually they did have to return home after the accident. She was capable of caring for herself, after all. And with cell phones and the internet, the communication lines with them were open if she needed anything. It was only a three-hour trip between her parents’ house and the home Jo rented.

When her parents left to go home, Jo was left completely alone. Her friend who she had been riding with lived out in the country, so she wasn’t nearby enough to visit daily. Jo had no boyfriend to cling to, no other real close friends nearby, and now no students.

She felt abandoned and confined in her wheelchair. Her last act before completely giving up on herself was to talk to a psychiatrist. She followed his advice and committed herself to the care of the staff at Ighosia Falls Insane Asylum.

Becca tried to imagine what it much be like to have the one driving factor of her life ripped away from her like dance had been from Jo. It wasn’t something she could fathom.

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