The New York Dance Academy was like nothing I had ever seen before. I was literally a fish out of the water. I tried to act composed. But my heart could not contain my excitement. I had seen the pictures of the school online and in brochures. However seeing it for the first time was even more beautiful. First and foremost, the artwork outside displayed different types of dancers. The building’s overall architecture was in a renaissance style, with arches and domes reminiscent of the classical 19th century period. I knew all this because both Leo and I took several art classes during our summers off from high school.
“Okay, Miss, we are here,” he said turning to look at me.
I grabbed my purse. “Oh, yes. I am sorry.”
“I get it, you’re excited.”
I glared at him. “Yes, I am.”
He frowned slightly. “It’s just that I’m a busy guy. That will be $25.00.
Wow, really? This guy is something else!
“Yes, is there a problem?” he asked.
I blinked and handed over the cash. “No, here you go.”
“Thank you.” He got out and helped take my luggage out of the trunk.
“Sure thing, Miss.” He swiftly went back into his car and took off without another word.
“Well, that was fun,” I chuckled and shook my head. “Okay, time to check in.”
I walked toward the big building in the front that has a sign marked “Admissions.”A large crowd of people waited by the door, and the number of students gathered there was overwhelming. I tried to stay invisible, but that’s impossible.
Boom! One of my smaller bags crashed to the ground in front of me. I snatched it back up and kept my head down as I hurried to the back of the line, hoping no one notices. But one look around tells me I’m wrong. Most of the other students are glaring at me now, and some are even pointing.
I was just about to lose my cool when I heard a voice behind me. “Hey, let me help you with that.”
I felt a hand tugging on the handle of the small bag I just dropped. I’m too embarrassed to look up at the person who’s speaking.
“It’s okay,” the female voice continues. “This has happened to me before too. I’m Sandy Lawrence.”
“I’m Mia Gerard and thank you for your help, Sandy.” I looked up and shook her hand.
Sandy was a beaming girl with dark reddish hair and green eyes. She looked small in size. Maybe about 5 feet if that.
She grinned. “You’re welcome, Mia.”
“So, is this where I am supposed to be?”
“Are you new?”
“Yes, I am.”
“You are in the right place.”
I was grateful for Sandy’s help and appreciated her friendliness even more. I get the strangest feeling we’ve met before. Talking with her felt so natural.
She pulled on the bag again. “Please, let me help you.”
“Oh, you don’t need to do that.”
She tilted her head to one side. “Mia, please I insist.”
“Well, thank you, Sandy.”
As we walked to the back of the line, Sandy and I began to talk.
“This is my second year here at the New York Dance Academy. My specialties are Contemporary and Jazz. This year, I am going to be performing at Radio City Music Hall alongside some very talented dancers, including our very own Alona Neal.”
Wow, Alona Neal? She was one of the school’s most famous alumni. She’s been performing all over the nation. “Oh, that is so amazing, Sandy.”
She brushed it off with a wave of her hand. “So, tell me about you.”
“Well I am a freshman, and I am beginning my first dance classes this semester.”
She smiled from ear to ear, and her face lit up with excitement. “Okay, so what is your specialty, Mia?”
“Ballet and contemporary dance.”
“Oh, sounds great!”
“Mia, I just know you are going to love it here.”
“I think so too.” I’m not sure how all this will turn out, but at least for now I’ve gained a friend.
“Welcome to NYC.” She pulled her smartphone out of her pocket and checked the time. “It was nice meeting you, Mia. I’m sorry, but I have to go now.”
“Wait, you mean you don’t need to wait on the line?”
“No, I was actually headed to my dorm.”
“Oh, well nice meeting you too.”
She thrusts a slip of paper in my direction. “Here is my dorm room number. Please come by.”
I shift some bags in my hand to take it and stuff it in my pocket without looking. “Okay, I will.”
“Best of luck, Mia,” she says with a little wave.
“Thank you, Sandy. See you.”
“Don’t be a stranger,” she called over her shoulder.
I laughed. “I won’t.”
She headed over to another building that appeared to be attached to the giant arch. After she left, I waited in line for what appeared like hours. No one else seems to want to have any type of conversation. Lucky for me I was a patient person. Leo always said I was the calmer one of the two. For example, I began to recall one night when he had planned a big date night for us and the weather in Ann Arbor made it impossible for us. Leo was so upset. He wouldn’t stop apologizing. “Mia, I am sorry. I really wanted to take you out to the new Italian place in Lansing.”
I clearly remembered what I said to him that night. “Leo, it’s okay. You can take me another night. Let’s just enjoy the lovely picnic I planned indoors for us.”
My mom had planted the suggestion in my head, so I’d planned it all out earlier that day.
Leo was so happy, he could not contain his excitement. “I love you, Mia Gerard.”
“I love you too, Leo.”
Oh, how I valued our time together. I could replay that memory in my head over and over.
Being in line now is okay by me. After all, I’m doing more than just checking in. I was starting a whole new chapter in my life.
Just remember to breathe, Mia.