I couldn’t fit everything in my house, had to make room, so I took a tea tray to the salvation army. I was in a new town and had to find it. There were lots of brick buildings with their logos painted on the sides, covering the doors, so that from the road it looked like the city was just one huge billboard. I found a ramshackley wooden house with chickens running around and lots of kids. I asked directions to the salvation army and they convinced me somehow to keep my tray but to go tryout instead for a dance audition. I went to the museum and used an empty room to practice contortion.
Later that month, it must have been thanksgiving, I was at my dad’s and my mom was there too although they were divorced. We were waiting for family members to get there. Mom’s family arrived first: a small Chinese man that must have been Susana, Shelley and Tyler and Cort (as a small child), and Rick, and several other brothers like Rick. They came in to say hello before going to bed which dad was hesitant about, but enjoyed until he realized the cats had been let inside. Everyone was so tired. Shelley was groaning about having to make thanksgiving dinner the next day.
I got something the size of a cd insert booklet in the mail, and it was the month’s goings on at the museum. Crazily, it was filled with pictures of me. There must have been a photographer there when I was stretching and contorting in my striped bodysuit because there I was, on every page. I showed Tyler and he said “neat, let’s go see it!” So we jumped into the picture which took us to this crazy clock-tree museum first. Clocks everywhere, carvings like trees, candles lit in geodes and natural ore formations. Cort came trailing behind but he was much younger. So we had to watch out for him. When the clocktree museum closed, it turned into a head shop with every sort of whimsy condom or colorful thing you can imagine. The lady who owned it was crazy and wouldn’t clean up the place or even make way for clear aisles so we had to scrape ourselves through the floorboards into the space beneath the store to get out. Then we went to the museum where I had practiced to watch my audition.
It was weird to see myself—I looked much younger and more easily overlooked and immature than I had imagined myself to look. I was wearing my old longjohn pajamas to the audition—the white ones with black cat silhouettes and red hearts. I immediately realized that that had been a stupid idea. What was I thinking?! But during my audition I saw myself doing mostly contortion—some great things too (especially walking my legs around myself and moving very dancerly)—but the auditioneer called out “okay, that’s enough, you can go now” to me before I had really gotten into the dance part of my piece. He looked down to write something on his piece of paper. And I spider walked on my fingers with my legs over my shoulders toward him. He looked up surprised that I hadn’t left the floor yet and said, “you want to continue?” I nodded my head. He was very impressed with this and said, “you’ve made it to the next round. Now listen, do you hear? You have to be so willing to work for me, you have to be tireless, do you understand?” He gave me a lesson of a peptalk and I nodded quietly to everything he said. As I watched myself I was surprised that I had been so meek.
In the eventual production, they had used me as the character of a rag doll. The other dancers had been witches and a werewolf and something else scary, and I had been the thing they practiced with. It was a really neat production—the colors and textures were very rich, but not sparkly like usual bellydance performances. I remember seeing myself being held horizontally by the others, and then being bent and angled into various positions. Then they would set me up on the floor and command my movements. It was a really really fun performance.