Chapter 31

  The next morning, it was time to hit the first day of classes. I set the alarm for 6:00 a.m., even though I didn’t need to be in until about 9:00. But the dean requested to see me and make sure my transition was all set.

I also wanted to make a good impression on Sandy as a roommate. I didn’t want to wake her so early. She doesn’t have classes on Fridays. It’s mainly her day to catch up on her side work as a stage dancer and performer. We had so much fun talking at the Dreams Café/ Broadway show, we stayed there later than we meant to.

I hoped Sandy would not press me on why I did not start the previous fall, like everyone else, but she does bring it up.

“Mia, I was wondering why you didn’t begin last September.”

I fidgeted and looked down at my plate. “Oh, the timing just wasn’t right.”

I panicked. I was not ready to talk about Leo.

Goodness, I don’t want to do this today.

“Well, you’re here now, and that is the important thing.”

I offer a half-hearted smile. “Yes, it is.”

Oh, I hated lying to her. But I was just not ready to discuss Leo.

It was hard to even say the words. I want to try to go about my life one day at a time to create a new kind of “normal,” as I learned in my support group. I know it would never be the way it is but I can try to make the best of it.

“On another note, didn’t you say you had no classes today?”

“I don’t, but I wanted to accompany you since it is your first day.” I blinked “Really?”

“Yes, is that okay?” she asked.

“Oh no, it’s fine. I was nervous about going on my own.”

She was happy and rested her hand on the doorframe to my room. “Well, now you don’t have to.”

I was glad Sandy volunteered to come with me. It will make things so much easier for me. Once classes begin, I’m sure things will only get more challenging. The New York Dance Academy of Performing Arts only works with the best dancers. If you want to make it, you have to work hard and show you deserve to be there. I’ve been given a big opportunity, and I don’t want to disappoint.

“Okay, I am going to get myself ready, and we can be out the door in no time.”

“Sure, I will make coffee.”

“Sounds great, Mia, and I know a great place where they have the best bagels. We can grab one on the way.”

“Oh, that sounds delicious. I love bagels.”

It took Sandy less than half an hour to get ready. I pour her a cup of coffee, and then we are out the door.

The campus was like nothing I have ever seen. Students brushed past all around us in a rush to get to their classes. I’ve never seen so many people in one place at the same time.

Sandy turned to me. “Okay, Mia, where do you need to go first?” “Actually, Dean Array needed to see me.”

“Oh yes, the dean. It is the procedure. He is going to welcome you to the school. He is a very nice man, and he genuinely cares about the students and the school. He attended Juilliard and has appeared in several Broadway shows.”

“Yes, I remember hearing about him.”

“Okay, well, I will wait for you in the student lounge. Just come find me when you’re done.”

I nodded. “Sounds great, Sandy.”

She gives me a thumbs-up. “Best of luck.”

“Thanks.”

The walk to the dean’s office was a bit nerve-wracking. Insecurity struck me, and my hands got sweaty. I bit my bottom lip, and then I felt a bit of a panic attack coming again. My heart raced, and my face heated up. I don’t know why I suddenly felt this way.

Okay, Mia, breathe. Stop this now.

It’s like I was trying to subconsciously sabotage the opportunity I’ve been given.

No, Mia, this is not the way. This is not the answer.

All I needed was a sip of water. Lucky for me, I had grabbed a bottle on my way here.

I hope I’m not too early. After all, it is only 7:15 a.m. I don’t know if he would be in now. I also hoped Sandy and I would be able to grab one of those bagels she mentioned earlier. Oh! darn it, my stomach is beginning to growl a bit. I needed to stay calm.

“Good morning, miss,” says an older man. “Good morning.”

“Can I help you with something?”

“Ah well, I actually am on my way to see Dean Array.” “Well, this is your lucky day. I am Dean Array.”

“Oh, good morning, Dean. I am Mia Gerard.” I tried to remain calm, even though my legs are shaking.

“Oh, Mia. Yes, please come with me.” “Sure.”

We began walking to what appears to be his office. Several office assistants and secretaries worked throughout this office. The phones were ringing off the hook. I also see more than five people in the front office, and then there are five more who are working in the back, filing and running the mail.

“As you can see, Mia, it is another busy day.” “Yes, I can see that.”

“Well, come into my office, and please have a seat.” “Okay.”

I was quite impressed by his office. It looked very spacious, and I loved how he had it decorated with so many paintings and family pictures. Awards and playbills line one of his walls. I can’t help but admired all the paintings.

“Is that a Degas?”

“No, but I can see why you thought that.” “Well, I know he loved painting ballerinas.”

“Yes, I have some of his work at home and I see you know your art, too.”

“Well, I took a few classes and I have always loved it.”

“Yes, my wife and I love it, too.”

“So, who is the painter of this magnificent artwork?”

“Well, he is new, and from England. He is just starting up here in New York. His name is Henry Watson.”

I took another look at the painting.

“Wow, a new painter? It looked as if he had been doing this a long time.”

“Yes, I agree, Mia.”

I smiled sheepishly at him. “Sorry. I get carried away when it comes to art and paintings.”

“Oh, it’s fine, Mia. Thank you for sharing that.” “You’re welcome.”

He placed his hands together.

“Well, I wanted to tell you how happy I am that you are here. I heard about what you have been through, and I just wanted you to know how deeply sorry I am.”

“Thank you, sir.” I bowed my head to study the carpet.

“Mia, I cannot even begin to know your pain. But I wanted to

commend you for taking this chance with us.”

“I was grateful for this opportunity, and I hope to do my very best.” He stood up. “I know you will. I have seen your work.”

“Thank you again.”

“Head to the front office. Becky will give you the financial aid papers with your scholarship information and instructions on how to apply for a work-study position.”

“Oh, I thought I had to see Financial Aid for that.”

“Normally you do, but I thought we would take care of it for you.” “Again, thank you so much.”

“Oh, you’re welcome, Mia. Becky also has your schedule.” “Best of luck,” he said as I headed out the door.

Wow, this is definitely a good start to the day. As I walk towards the front office I see Becky, and I cannot stop smiling.

She hands me a stack of papers. “Here is your schedule, financial award letter that mentions your scholarships, and the list of the work-study positions available.”

“Thank you, Becky.” “You’re welcome.”

Sandy came up behind me. “Hey, Mia, how did everything go?” “Oh, it went great. How did you know I was out of the meeting?” “I heard you talking to Becky here. I’m glad everything went so

well. Now we can head over and get some bagels at Maggie’s Place.”

“Maggie’s Place?”

“That’s where they sell the bagels, Mia!” she exclaimed. “Oh, okay. Yes, I would love that.”

“You do have time, right?”

“Yes. My first class begins at 9:00.”

“Okay, good. It is only 8:10 now, and the place is right by the building where your classes will be.”

“Oh, perfect!”

There’s a long line outside Maggie’s when we get there. The students really love these bagels.

Sandy caught the look on my face. “Don’t worry, Mia, it will go by quick.”

“Well, I just hope I am not late for class.” “Oh, trust me. You won’t be.”

Before I knew it, Sandy had already moved up and was ordering our bagels. “What would you like?”

“Uh, I will have the bagel with butter.”

“Okay, then I will have the plain bagel.”

After we got our order, we sat down and start scarfing down the bagels.

“Wow, these are delicious, Sandy.”

She beamed. “I knew you would love them.” “Thank you for coming with me today.” “Hey, I am glad to be here.”

Fifteen minutes later, it was time to head to class.

“Okay, Mia, have a good first day. I will see you back at the dorm.”

“You have a good one, too.”

“I would meet you for lunch, but I have an appointment today.” “No worries, Sandy; I’ll just grab something at the student lounge.”

“Okay. Later, girl.”

“Later.”

I waved and began walking to my first class. I just hope all runs smoothly today.

Just stay calm.

 

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