It’s 3 a.m. So cold here. I could hear the wind’s singing outside. I looked at my cellphone and it said 4˚C. I couldn’t get to sleep. I was dying thinking about my ballet audition. I was dying thinking about becoming one of The Royal Ballet School’s students. I was also dying thinking about whether doing fouetté or grand fouetté en tournant. I shoved in my earplugs and played all Chopin’s instrument to die trying hard to sleep.
Now it’s 9.45 a.m. I was almost late for my 10 a.m. audition. I wore my coat and got a taxi to The Royal Ballet School’s main building. I could see tons of danseuse and danseur queuing at the main entrance. During my audition, I could see so many talented danseuses and danseurs that I felt like noone-from-nothingness. They all had well-built posture, beautiful legs, typical-feminine-muscled shoulder, no unwanted fat, and of course all that beautiful face, typical European lady that reminded me of the ladies during Victorian era. For your information, I was the only Asian here. I had no white skin but colored, no beautiful legs, my shoulder was also not that cute-athletic and I had chubby cheeks. The good news was that my weight was still proportional, but yes, I still had fat like seriously.
It’s my turn. I came forward elegantly trying hard to hide my nerve. I could see her cynically looked at me.
“So, what should I call you, young lady?”
“Just Lana, Madame.”
“It seems that you’re the youngest here. 1994. Well, age doesn’t matter, right? Let’s see the way you move then.” She was like insulting me, but I promised that she would clap her hands when seeing my movements. “Which one will you use, young lady?”
“I think this one, Madame.”
“Are you sure? Ladies and gents here rarely choose it. Time to Say Goodbye. You’ll get yourself in so much trouble then. Let’s see how you move, young lady.”
“Thanks, Madame, and for your information, I’d like to avoid any mainstream thing.”
“Please come forward and show me that you can work with this, young lady.”
I stood up very confidently. I felt the music and I let it flow through my dance. I started with a little slow adagio. Then I, suddenly, felt like my brain’s freezing but I could still felt myself moving. I could see a picture of my childhood in my head space. It was when my parents and I went to Fontana di Trevi. I could still see our smiles, our laughter, and our happiness. I could still remember how they hold my hands, father on the right side and mother on the left side. But then it’s blurred. My heart’s beating faster. I wanted to see them clearly but it’s still blurred. I tried hard to remember all of things. Now it’s sick. I couldn’t easily breathe. All pictures were spinning around my head space. They started fading away. I lost them. It’s all black now.
Then I opened my eyes and saw everyone’s looking at me differently. What the damn was I doing? Why did the look at me that way? I hated to see any strange look, honestly.
“Nice moves, young lady! You did it perfectly well. You’ve done your grand fouetté en tournantthirty times in thirty seconds. So, congratulation, young lady.” She didn’t even clap her hands. Still, I saw her cynical eyes.
I went back and decided to sit at the very back of the lines.
“Bloody hell! How could you do that? Oh, my name is Jennifer but you can call me Jane.”
“I’m Melania and call me Lana.”
“Hi, I’m Olivia. Now tell us how could you do that? You were insanely spinning like merry-go-round losing its control. Were you in a trance?”
“Honestly, I didn’t know exactly what was I doing. I just did that. That’s all.”
They kept on asking me how I was doing, my fouetté. Jane and Olivia were the first people who willingly became my friends. All people here were firstly underestimating me. Maybe, they thought that I couldn’t do the movements. But then after I did my fouetté, suddenly they turned to be nice to me.
Two years later
I loved studying here. This was what I’ve been dreaming of since years ago. I wanted to be a professional ballerina like what my mother wanted me to be. But deep down in my heart, I wanted to be a professional dancer, not only a classic ballet dancer ballerina. I couldn’t really understand why she wanted me to be so. I always wished to know the exact reason, but I could not.
I thought that my mother was a great ballerina. I remembered how she taught me to do the fouetté when I was five. Foolishly, I never took it seriously. I was not that really interested in classic ballet. Lucky me, when I couldn’t do my fouetté, she wouldn’t get angry. She never imposed her will, but she only wanted me to learn ballet. Therefore, there’s a dance room in our house where she used for teaching me ballet every evening.
She ever told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be. My future belonged to me, not anyone else even her. She gave me freedom to do anything but it must be with my responsibility. It was totally different from my father. I rarely met him. He was a perfectly busy man. One thing that made him different from my mother is that he is a strict person. He didn’t like seeing my mother and I dancing. He would be insanely angry to my mother when he saw we danced. He wanted me to be an engineer. He said that female engineer had brighter future than male. It sounded silly but that’s the fact. I loved my father, but I didn’t like him anyway. He went home once a year. He was just like a stranger in my house. When it’s Lunar New Year, he never went home. Lunar New Year was supposed to be a ‘family-day’ but it seemed that he didn’t understand it well. He never came home, perfectly never. Therefore, hardly I did things that he wanted me to do. Who the hell he was? Did he bring me up?
“Congratulation!!!!!” I see Jane and Olivia brought me a paper.
“Yes, dear. You are officially selected to be our class delegation to contribute in the RBS ballet competition next winter.”
“Olivia is right. You’d better prepare yourself, make some beautiful movements, and don’t forget to amaze everyone out there with your dramatic fouetté.”
“Are you kidding me? I didn’t even fill in the form for the competition. How could I …”
“Madame Fleur chose you, honey. You must be proud of yourself. You are selected. It means that she trusts you. She believes in your talent.”
“I have nothing to say now. I wish my mother were here. I bet she would be very proud of me.” I started to weep. Jane and Olivia began to hug me, tightly. I felt like I couldn’t breathe now.
I was always sad knowing that now I couldn’t share any precious moments with my only mother. She got a terrible Alzheimer and she couldn’t even recognize me as her daughter.
This evening, I went back to my dance room. I never felt this hard to choose the music to use. I hopelessly shuffled every song I had in my iPod. Still, I couldn’t find it yet. Then I opened the small drawer beside the player. I found so many vinyl records inside. Thanks God I still had a gramophone. I took one of the records randomly. Voila! It’s Chopin’s I guessed. I hear beautiful sounds. I felt the music. I remembered one thing. This was Chopin’s Waltz in C-sharp minor and Étude Op. 10, No. 5. This what my mother used when she taught me how to dance for the first time. This song was just recalling all my memories. When I took a deep breath, I stood up spontaneously. I could feel my body’s moving. My brain’s freezing. Then, I saw completely nothing. It’s all black.
“Lana.” Oh what a beautiful damnation. I could hear my mother’s voice. She called me. “Come here, darling. Do you still like watching me dancing?” Then I could hear a kid’s voice. It’s me. Years ago. I couldn’t believe it.
“Yes!! Show it to me again, Mom. I wanna see it again. I love watching you spinnin’ ‘round like a magic.” Oh it’s me. I could see my past. It was right the first time I practiced dancing. Then I saw how my mother’s moving with the exact same song. It was so beautiful that now I was weeping to see it. I was so amazed with the way she did her a-minute-fouetté without making any movement. She kept in the center of the room. She moves like a ballerina doll on the music box.
“Do you like it? Do you want to try, darling?”
“But I don’t feel like dancing, Mom. I’d like to be the audience.”
“Oh, come on. Let’s try it. It’s fun doing fouetté.”
“What is fouetté, Mom?”
“It’s a whipping movement. It is when you raised foot as it passes rapidly in front of or behind the supporting foot or the sharp whipping around of the body from one direction to another.”
“Mom, please don’t use words I don’t understand.”
“Oh, come here darling. You can do fouetté by raising your right foot like this and…” She gave me directions to do the fouetté my moving my leg with her warm hands. I could still feel it until now. It was the prettiest moment I’d ever had during my life time. From childhood to adulthood, there’s only Mother’s warmth in me.
Then I opened my eyes when the song finished its melody. I felt like having a headache now.
“Lana, are you okay?”
“Um, hi Jane. What are you doing here?”
“I saw what you did. Normally, a normal ballerina will only do only thirty second fouetté, but you did a minute one. Therefore, I worried about you. Are you really okay?”
“There’s one reason that makes me do that. Whenever I do that, I will see the picture of my mother, my family, our happiness, and everything I lost. I love doing so as it helps me recall my memories. I promise you that I will be okay, and I am. Trust me.”
“Dinner is ready. Let’s eat. I don’t want you to get sick before the competition.”
At the first round of the competition, my name was called last. I was afraid that the judges were too tired or bored so that they would give me lower score. But I always remembered what my mother had said to me that I should always stand up elegantly and hide all of my negative feeling. I built up my confidence and started to dance. This time, I would certainly do a slow a-minute-fouetté to give an impression to the judge.
Voila! I did it and I could go to the next round. Everything ran smoothly and so was my second. Thanks God for my luck then.
A week later
I was in my dancing room trying to dance following the symphony. Then my eyes could not get rid from the mirror in front of me. I saw my reflection through the mirror. I saw myself could not dance in harmony. So pathetic. I lost the elegance. The room turned out so blue. I looked through the mirror. I saw an old-cheap-photograph. There were picture of my father, my mother, and little me. That’s what I call as a family. But that only was, a family.
Now I chose a modern song titled To Build a Home. The song was really difficult to be interpreted by a classic ballet ballerina, but I wanted to try at least. I took a deep breath, I stood up spontaneously. I could feel my body’s moving. My brain’s freezing. Then, I saw completely nothing. It’s all black again. Now I could see my father and my mother, without me. I didn’t know when it was, but it seemed that they were on a fuss.
“You shouldn’t teach Lana how to dance! She’d better be an engineer. It will give her brighter future. Why so selfish?”
“I’m not selfish! But you are! Who the hell you are? Do you also bring her up with your hand? You are always busy with your stuffs and never even care with your family. What’s the point?”
“I hate watching you’re dancing! I know you’re a good dancer, but please don’t dance in my house. It’s disgusting!”
“I love dancing. I had perfectly tasted the salty sweat to get a good career as a professional ballerina but you ruined it! Sometimes I regret being your wife! I’m drown in my regrets! I’m done trying. I’m tired!”
It’s sick watching them like that. Father starts hitting. Mother won’t end up crying. And I do completely nothing. Then I tried to open my eyes but I couldn’t. All pictures were just spinning insanely through my headspace. But now, all I saw were my father kept on hitting my mother. It’s suck. My eyes couldn’t be opened. I was weeping. My tears followed the notes in music and inhaled my blood mood. True, I was dying to see the world that my mother’s saw. Therefore, I went back to the past. But it wasn’t something that I wanted to see. It’s hurt to see it all. My little life didn’t have a sequel, but lucky me I still had my own time machine. Until now, I wished I could not only go to the past but also try to fix my future and continue to have my good and happy ending story, of course with my family.
Now I could open my eyes. I could feel my sweat covering my body. I couldn’t believe in myself. I succeed doing a two minutes fouetté. Mother must be proud of me. I broke her record. I feel like having a headache again.
Autumn thinned down with fallen leaves all over the ground. I did not weep. I hold back my feeling. Whenever I missed them all, I would do as much as fouetté until the memories recalled.
“Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life.”
That was one sentence which I slurp together with my no-sugar-coffee this cloudy morning. Sometimes, it seemed like everyone, even God, were all against me. But then, after I read a book and found that sort of sentence, something changed my mind. In my solitary moment, it felt like I could talk to my conscience. It told me that I only needed time to relax and enjoy my solitude before I went back to reality.
I always felt like I was a stranger in my own company. When my father was still alive, he was the one who took charge for this. I was too busy being a part time student in this such-a-university. If it was not for my parents, I would never be a student here. But now, after he passed away, they wanted me to take charge in this strange place. That was how I became stranger here. So far, I never had any courage to be a good leader here. I was too afraid to tell them any of my ideas as you see that they were my senior not only for their age but also their experience. Therefore, I preferred to be passive and let them make me as their voodoo.
Today was Friday, the last day in this December. The sky could not be seen clearly. I took a morning flight to Surakarta to see my aunt. I wished I could find something from my journey. Up in the air, I could see clouds were all in companion¾like mankind who tried to build family, yes family. I took a deep breath and hoped that this Friday would never be my last hope just like what the philosopher has said before: Friday, the last day in weekdays, meant the last day for you to hope.
This place has changed from time to time. And as usual, Aunty was not in home. That thing would never change. To see Aunty in home in the morning was an impossible thing. She must be in her workshop. She was the lady who made all of the Royal Family’s cloths. She was a real Javanese lady for sure.
“Hello, darl, nice to see you here! I thought it’s always impossible to see you here spending New Year’s Eve.”
“I just want to do anything I never did before. Doing the right same things is always boring. What are you doing now, Aunty?”
“As you see, I’m making Batik in Parang motive. Only the Royal Family who are allowed to wear this.”
“Why should it be so?”
“I don’t know, the rule says so, darl. One thing that you should know is that Parang motive has a continuous letter S form which symbolizes an eternal spirit. Just like us, human being, we should never give up easily when we fail in one thing. Remember, there will always be lots of good thing to achieve. Every day, there will be both good and bad things in our life. Always. And then the diagonal straight line here symbolizes faith. We have to be faithful in this life. In general, Parang motive symbolizes intelligent, courage and leadership. All of them are the requirements that the leader should have, not only for the king but also people in general.”
“That’s a too long explanation, Aunty. I can’t guarantee you if I could remember all of them.”
“You don’t need do remember all the things, darling, you just need to try to understand every detail that happen in your life.”
Aunty was a good role model for me. She was a good sage with lots of philosophy came out from her beautiful mouth. She has experienced to be defeated by her weakness, she has conquered her anxiety, and now, she has been on her way to reach success. She thought that success was when you could go to sleep peacefully and wake up in serenity, every day, in our life. That’s why I honored her. I’m dying to be like her in my life. Factually.
Today I got something from her philosophy of Parang motive. Her words were like a painful slap right on my face. It was completely foolish to be controlled by the Left Side of me. I used to wake up every morning with a heavy heart. I used to believe that my life was a constellation of cosmic problems that I dreamt to solve but I had no true intention to do that. I used to be controlled by anxiety of getting trapped in my own nothingness. I used to be enslaved by the Left Side of me, like seriously.
Now, I tried to understand what the Right Side told me. I needed to change. Now. In fact, I only needed to be like Parang motive which always had its intelligent, courage, eternal spirit, and faith so that I could be a good leader not only for others, but also for myself. I needed to conquer the Left Side of me.
“Encourage yourself to swallow pride in your own scars, darl, so that you could solve every dilemmatic problem with your intelligent. You have faith, don’t you? Beat the anxiety that lives in you with it.”
“Aunty, how long have you been here?”
“Since you started your dramatic monologue blaming yourself for your temporary failure. If you want to change, now is the perfect time to do so, darl. I’m going to cook you some dinner. Too much dramatic monologue is not good for your mental health, darl, better you take a bath to refresh your mind now.”
As she went inside, I thought about what my future would be and I decided to make some important phone calls that I never did before.
“Good evening, Mr. Gi, could you please schedule a meeting for tomorrow at 7 a.m. sharp with our all colleagues? I have some new idea to make a new interior design for the apartment. Thank you.”
That’s the first command I gave after six months being in charge in that company. I felt like being a traveler, not a stranger anymore, who met other people and became a good companion. I dared not to be stranger anymore, but a traveler. A traveler who, of course, faced obstacles but always found a way to solve them all. A traveler who always been in thirst of a new road to take and new journey to carry on.
Everyone has their own way to praise their God, so do I. When people out there really praise their God by doing the-routine-ceremonies, honestly, I don’t do that. Don’t worry! I still believe in God. I believe He does really exist. I believe He is real. I just don’t do such kind of ceremonies. For me, religion is not the first thing that comes up in my spiritual life, but still, I believe in God. God is here, in my heart, and never goes away. Try to be honest, I have no good relationship with God.
I have no good relationship with God in my present life, but in the past, I do have it. When I was in my childhood, my grandma told me that I had to go to mosque everyday to learn more about “religion.” There, I learnt more about how to blame on other religion and believes, perfectly. My ustadz told me that Islam is the best religion in the universe. The one who will be Heaven’s resident is only Muslim, not else, only Muslim. How foolish I was that I believed that term. Everyday, when I was in my childhood, I salat regularly, praise my Allah, and also went to the mosque to be indoctrinated. I was taking distance to the one who is non-Muslim. But when I was 7years old, my grandma told me that I shouldn’t go to the mosque again. She said that all the lessons are wrong, totally wrong. She said that God never taught anyone to blame on another no matter what their religion is. She said that God never gave instruction to stay away from those who have different religion from us. It is perfectly okay to make as many as friends during our life, especially when you’re child. Therefore, I stopped learning “religion.”
I have no good relationship with God. Whenever the soap operas tell me to be patient on every worst condition as God will always give the best solution, trust me, I will never do that. I was grown up in a really unreal-such-a-thing-called-family. My father left me and mom when I was 15 months old. At that time, I knew nothing. All I knew were just crying, smiling, and screaming. My mom and I live with my grandma. When I was in my childhood, I believed that I had no father. But when I was in the first year of my elementary school, I knew, perfectly, that my father married another woman. Therefore, I hate him. My grandma always told me to keep on praying to God, praised Him, and asked Him for help. I used to do it. But day by day, month by month, year by year, He gave me nothing but worse condition. My father was drowning in his second-marriage euphoria and forgot on us, mom and me. Therefore, when I was 10 years old, I stopped asking for God’s help as I knew that he would never help me.
I have no good relationship with God. When I was 15 years old, I met a boy who made me believe in God again after a long time. I was falling in love with that guy. His eyes, his lips, his hands, they’re all so interesting. I wanted to know more about him, but I didn’t really want to be caught in a relationship-trap. For me, there’s no good guy in this real life. There are only two kinds of men in my world, asshole and gay. No “Normal Guy” term in my life. They don’t really exist! Trust me. I fell deeper in this boy’s world. I thought I was in love. Yes, love, yes. He made me believe that he was an exist-normal-guy, at the first year of our relationship, only. After that, everyday I praised God for giving a good guy. He made me dancing on table for having a real love with a normal guy. But when he decided to go somewhere in the world, I know one ordinary fact that he was cheating on me during our naïve-relationship. I was so foolish that I couldn’t notice about it. I complained to God for His making me fly high to crush an Airbus.
I have no good relationship with God. I keep on asking why parents don’t get divorced. I always think that if they’re divorced, my mom and I will have a better life with better financial. But then I realize that they will never get divorced. My father doesn’t want to lose one of his companies, his 30% salary, and one of his houses for us when he’s divorced. How realistic my father is! He is richer, and I’m still share a bed with mom. For those who said God is good and God always gives justice and peace for those who always praise Him, please stop saying it! Seriously! It doesn’t happen to me, to my family. Therefore, I have no good relationship with Him.
Although I have no good relationship with God, I still believe in Him. I believe that He does exist. He’s still in my heart. He never goes away. I know it.
There are so many people say that life is about taking lots of chances and experiences failures, but for me, failures cannot be accepted. I always make a high expectation about myself and everything I have to achieve in a period. For me, there is no second chance if you want to know your limit. Doing everything in your daily life as if it is the last chance is a good way to know where you can stand yourself in real life. I remember when someone said “Be brave! Take risks! Nothing can substitute experience.” That is why I never give myself a second chance for everything I do.
I love to be on top. I cannot easily accept second place, I prefer to be on the first because there is only one winner in real life. Being a winner means we need to give extra energy and time to make it comes to reality. To become better at anything in life, you must be prepared to stretch your comfort zone. In my real life, so far, I always get that first place.
Now, I face a reality that I have to accept the second place. I hate when someone else took my first place away. It was like a punch right on my face. I kept on finding the wrong paths I chose that led me to the second place. One night, I lie awake but my head was paralyzed by the storm that kept on rolling in. I could not find the answer why I failed.
In a gloomy morning, a friend of mine told me my ‘sins.’
“Why can’t you accept the reality that you’re not the winner, now?”
“I can’t accept any places except the first!”
“Come on, wake up! Face the truth that sometimes you should give your place to anyone else. Let them feel what you’ve felt before.”
“But it’s so hard for me to do that.”
“Remember, happiness will always be multiplied when it is divided. Now, I think that you should move on, and come back to reality, face your failure. Being the second doesn’t mean you’re the worst.”
“But you know that I always be the top of the top. I cannot easily adapt myself in that second-place.”
“Bloody hell! Just wake up! You told me that I should never waste my time on unimportant things, now let me remind you. Don’t waste your time thinking about what you can’t change. Just start over and be new again, honey.”
“Please tell me, why this happened to me.”
“Simple! It is simply because of your fear. You’re afraid of being something you don’t want.”
“When you listened to your fears, you lost your power. You couldn’t remember what a great person you have been. You were dwelling on your bad thoughts too much and you took a decision based on your fears.”
“Yeah, that’s true. I was always proud of my pride.”
“That’s it, girl. Now, it is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”
In everytime, we need someone who can tell us the good and the worst of us, and they are the true friend of us. I will only surround myself with only people who are going to lift me higher. Life is already filled with enough people who want to bring me down.
The greatest mistake I can make in life is to continually fear that I will make one. Sometimes I win, and sometimes I learn, but it is not a failure :)