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.”
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.
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?”
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.