(This piece is inspired by Mallori’s ‘things i miss’ post)
When I was 12 years old, I wore the same size shoe as my Aunt Maudell. Hers were pointy and old-lady looking, and I usually just made fun of them. She absolutely loved my shoes. The only problem was she always refused to wear closed-toed shoes, so the only shoes of mine she would care to ‘borrow’ would be my sandals. This all sounds fine and dandy, but at the time, I had and even more prevalent hatred for shoes, and if I had to wear something, it would have been sandals. I would constantly have to go to her house to reclaim my shoes. I hated it. I secretly loved it. I loved that someone took the time to notice something about me that they liked and would love to do for themselves.
Maudell was a dancer. She grew up in the Roaring Twenties and knew exactly which way to twist and turn to get everyone’s attention. By the time I was old enough to be taught her moves, she was almost 90. Her jiggy hips turned to shuffled little steps across the dance floor. She couldn’t swing her arms without falling, so her windmill arms hopelessly grasped the person in front of her.
People say that you start to die as soon as you’re born, but science says you only start to regress after about 25. Maudie started to die the second she couldn’t dance anymore. Or better, when she couldn’t dance on her own. She wanted to twist and turn and sweat and have all eyes on her. Her old joints couldn’t do it anymore, and neither could she.
She told me she would have rather died on the dance floor than in a hospital bed, losing her fight with cancer.
“If I can’t dance Little Charlotte, should I even bother to stay alive?”
She was straight-forward like that.
(She, with the help of my grandmother, had me addicted to coffee at the ripe age of 10.)
There was a point when I had started taking dance lessons in an attempt to impress Maudie, but we both knew dancing wasn’t my thing. It wasn’t that I wasn’t good at it, but it did not hold my lifeline and she could tell. I gave up dance when I was 10.
Instead, I started writing. I dedicate all of my writing to my grandmother because she is my bestfriend and my greatest muse, but between the lines I can hear Aunt Maudell’s voice and creaky hips.
And the sound of my sandals tapping the floor.