I dedicate my first blog to my dad, Alex.
The loss of a loved one is the worst experience that one has to face.
There are absolutely no words to describe that type of pain. I have had the time now to look back now over the past 12 years, and always made a vow to have his story live on and by me putting this out there is adhering to that commitment. I will be forever grateful for my dad and the lessons he taught to me and my family. For being the sole supporter for us financially and emotionally during his deep talks about life and through the stories about his past. He was an amazing friend and although he was a legend in our town – he only had a few really good friends and you quickly knew who those people were. What a father that man was – he was a guide, a rock and he worked so hard to provide for his family, until his very last day. He showed me that if you work hard enough – you can do anything you want in life. He never forced me to follow some path or pushed me towards a career goal that he thought I should pursue – he left that up to me. He left that up to me by providing me all the means necessary to achieve those dreams. I felt, he really, truly believed in me and I was proud of that. The only way I knew how to return that gift was by somehow, someway to make something of myself in return. And I fiercely intended to do just that.
This reminds me of the one of the best memories that I always about my dad. A little background first: growing up, my dad was, I guess you could say a “dance dad.” Haha. I say dance dad because he was my sister and my greatest supporters – he never missed one single performance. He was the infamous announcer at our annual hometown dance competition every February at Hearts in Motion. He was 6’3’’ pushing 260 pounds a defensive linebacker type build – he was a big guy so that’s why, in my mind, it paints a funny picture to see my dad in this type of role. He was our #1 fan, even though he would jokingly call us the “dancing dipshits.” I don’t know why but it always made me laugh because, as I talked about in my bio, we would act out largely dramatic dance shows to our new CDs in our living room every weekend. He probably just rolled his eyes. But deep down you knew he was probably laughing raising these two girly girls.
My Junior year in High School, I was selected by our head coach, as the understudy to the lead role of one of our very best dancers on the team (who was this amazing gymnast and beautiful dancer might I add) The lead role performed as the Senorita in our Zorro themed routine. I was honored just to be the understudy, at best! However, our lead dancer developed a medical condition that inhibited her from performing just two weeks before we left for state. (And no, this was not a Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding situation!) jk. So, I had to unlearn the routine I had been practicing for the last 5 months and relearn an entire 5-minute solo – never shadowing her before. The difficulty not only lied in dedicating tireless hours of intense training every day along with the memorization and execution of every move. But also, the elements of dance I was expected to perform were at a much higher level than I was used to carrying out. All this, and with only two weeks practice before our final State competition. And if that wasn’t enough to make you want to have a panic attack, we were competing amongst the crème de le crème of all high school dancers – the elite – in the State of Oregon. Some of our biggest competitors like Lincoln High were classically trained dancers – I mean they were goooood. And here we were 50 and some dance team members, traveling to the “big city”, Portland. It was a three-hour school bus ride to be there from Pendleton, all this was our chance to show off all the blood, sweat, tears, practice, hard-work, we had dedicated as a team over last year. And dammit we did just that, every year we brought the competition!
As I stepped onto the gymnasium floor, “the butterflies” is an understatement. It was more like an intense pounding of bongo drums in my stomach and heart. That moment right when the music starts – the adrenaline rush kicked in and took over from there once I heard my queue and went leaping (literally) into the routine. It almost felt like a dream or an out of body experience when it was over – like something took over me and I just danced. I performed my heart out that night and nailed the routine.
I’ll never forget that moment. The moment the announcer said “…..and the second place award goes to….Pendleton!!!!!” I tried to keep it together but then I saw him. My dad had raced down the stairs from his seats and was literally the first person on the floor cheering form the sidelines – he probably would have run out onto the floor if the security tape wasn’t there. With his red Ralph Lauren polo shirt with the little black polo icon (to match our theme colors) tears flowing down his beet red face he was beaming! It was the face that only your dad could make when you can tell how truly proud he was, that quickly brought me to tears with him. The man rarely cried. I ran over to him and he gave me the biggest hug – he squeezed me so tight with his signature bear hug/chokehold and practically lifted me off the ground! The thing is: he knew how hard I had worked for that moment. And that with hard-work and dedication – there is a great amount of pride and success that comes with it.
I owe it to my dad for those valuable lessons and continue to seek out the best that this life has to offer. So, with that power in my hands and knowing that life is too short to not follow whatever dream or passion that you love – This is my dream. To share life experiences and to write about the things that I love that I hope will inspire you too. I am determined. And it starts. right. NOW.
And on the night before I left for New York City – we danced our last dance to Harvest Moon, by Neil Young. May I always remember you this way.