CAREERS HIDDEN IN MY LEFT ANKLE

On April 13th, I stepped outside for the first time all week. I made it about 4 steps until I rolled my left ankle as I teetered off the edge of the sidewalk. I didn’t hear a pop, but I immediately fell on my hands. For just a second, I didn’t know what happened. 

How did I get hurt? 

I was just walking…

I know this story is underwhelming. I stepped outside, sprained my ankle, crawled back inside, and a month later it’s still swollen and I can’t sit criss-cross-applesauce with my left foot on the bottom. Life is hard. 

After my sweet wife came and helped me to the couch, I looked up at her and said, “Ya know, in all those years of dancing, I never sprained an ankle.” 

She said, “It took you becoming an English teacher, I guess.” 

This was taken right before I graduated with my Master of Arts in Dance in 2017.

I regularly took dance classes since the age of 5. In college I minored in dance, and then I immediately pursued my Master of Arts in Dance. After getting my Masters, I was an Adjunct Professor at Elon University and the University of North Carolina – Greensboro. I also worked administratively at a local non-profit dance organization. I taught dance for little ones, grown up ones, and college ones. 

Some of my little ones waiting to go on stage.

When I told my employers I would be leaving the non-profit and moving to Austin to be closer to family, I told them my brilliant plan: I was going to become a secondary English teacher. Someone quickly replied, “That’s a great backup plan.”

For me, it was plan A, not the backup. I may have danced for 20 years, but I read books for longer. Growing up, the idea of being an English teacher was on par with being a ballerina or a librarian. (Yes, those were the dream jobs). So when Fauxlivia and I decided to move to Austin, it seemed like a great time to pursue a teaching certification. In one of our many long talks about this, she asked something like, “Are you sure you want to leave dance?”

My first day teaching 7th grade English, 2019.

I never saw it as leaving though. It wasn’t a dramatic exit with the curtain closing, or tossing up a middle finger as I sped away. It was just moving from the studio to the classroom. I think some people want a bigger explanation, or a reason that I would leave that work behind. I simply don’t see it that way. My experiences in the field of dance led me to fall completely in love with teaching. I love talking about books just as much as I love talking about the anatomical components of a plié. When I was choreographing and teaching dance, I missed talking about books. When I am teaching English though, I still miss talking about pliés. But I don’t miss it enough to say I’m unfulfilled. I am fulfilled, and can see I am living out my passions. I can’t even say they’re taking turns. I taught dance then. It led me here, now. 

I don’t think that having uninjured ankles for all of my life until I became an English teacher is a dark metaphor that it’s going all wrong. At least I hope not. When I look down at my left ankle and see it’s slightly rounder than the right, I am not flooded with regret at switching course or changing careers. I just think, “Hm, that’s different.”

But mainly, I think they are just as they should be. 

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