"There's something beautiful and very circular about passing by something that was important to the person you loved, or touching something that once meant something to him - that brings me some peace." - Nate Berkus*
I read that and think "yes!". Nate's statement articulates how I feel about some of Merin's things. Certainly not everything or anything that was hers but a few things. These things still tug (or poke) at me - sometimes quite sharply, depending on the day. But I want them, want to keep these things, as if I could keep her by doing so.
Unless you have a fairly close relationship with a dancer you would probably be astounded at the number of pointe shoes they go through - and the rate at which they do so. I have no idea of the total number Merin consumed (there is no better word to describe the fate of pointe shoes) over the years she danced but I do know that it would have been pointless (Ha!) to keep track because it was either consume or stop dancing and the stopping option was not to be considered. Suffice it to say there have been many bags and boxes that have left the dance shops in her hands or mine. Many times over those years I would suggest to her that perhaps it would not be....unwise (?)...to send at least a few pair of the worn-out, smelly, and never-again-to-be-worn shoes to a final home in the dump. Because she had very literally bags of them. Bag s ! And every time she would think about it carefully - for a second - and say with regret that she really couldn't. I didn't understand her reasoning but I did respect it. How could I not when she was so sweetly regretful to disagree and so obviously attached to the smelly, worn-out items?
As things have transpired I am totally in harmony with her now. I don't believe there are many objects that I treasure more highly than those same smelly, worn-out shoes. They are a tangible and visual reminder of Merin in many ways. The times we drove home from class, late at night after hours of class, with her tired (very ) smelly feet propped on the dashboard of my car, both of us laughing about the stink. Pointe shoes hanging to "dry out" on closet handles or chair backs. Her devotion to, and passion for, ballet. The hours spent together trying to find the perfect fit for what are, in the end, objects of torture. Her joy in expression that dance was to her. Shoes carefully wrapped in their ribbons and tucked heel into toe, neatly ready - so very Merin. That she was partial to Freed ribbons - hard to find here and so used and reused on multiple pairs of shoes until they were too short to tie. The sweet way she thanked me for ....a new pair (or pairs), sewing on the ribbons and elastics when she was overwhelmed with her university studies, teaching, rehearsing, reaching for perfection.
Of the bags and bags of pointe shoes I found among her possessions as I cleaned out and boxed up the little home she and Mike shared, I have only a few left for myself. It seems that those worn-out pointe shoes say 'Merin' to those who knew her well and love her so much. I am happy that there were so many pairs to share. I am happy that I have a basket of what is left in my sewing room - where I see them daily - reminding me and bringing me comfort. And I agree with Nate - there is something beautiful and circular about passing by them.
*In the March 2011 issue of "O, the Oprah Magazine"