Ballet and Willie

Watch the leap at 55 seconds! Mama’s heart soared at beauty and the trust it required. She expected to be able to trust people this way in real life, and was always disappointed. Her heart was so fragile. Perhaps that’s one reason she limited her circle of friends at the end. She didn’t want to be around a bunch of “yes” people… she had fire and anger and appreciated a good argument right up to the end. But she had no tolerance for untrustworthy people.

I will never love or probably even appreciate ballet as much as she did, but when I do go to the ballet, I can remember how enraptured she would be. It gives me chills to think about it. My favorite evening on my recent trip to Finland and Russia was the night we went to the Kirov (now, Marinsky) Ballet. Mama always dreamed of dancing there, or even just watching the ballet there. We saw a ballet called the Humped Back Pony. I had always wondered why she sometimes called Benny a humpy backed prancey pony… now I knew!

When we left the theatre, the sky glowing white by the midnight sun somewhere under the horizon, we saw the dancers leaving through the stage door. They were wearing sweats and carrying gym bags and smoking cigarettes and looking all glamorous as they glided through the streets to wherever they were going. I imagined they were going to drink whiskey somewhere and talk about poetry and have sex! I imagined Mama as one of them, taking her body and youth and beauty and talent for granted, enjoying a long inhale from her Saratoga lights.

Mama also loved Willie Nelson. Red Headed Stranger and Stardust were the soundtracks of my childhood. She said that Willie spoke to her soul. She loved his voice and his arms. Before the internet, I searched video stores high and low for a a copy of Honeysuckle Rose on VHS to give her for Christmas. She wrote him a letter once for me to give him if any of my Austin friends ever had a Willie connection. Seems like someone always had some kind of connection.

After she died, I took the letter with me to a concert and waited out by the bus to try to give it to him… I would have been so cool! I still have the letter. I will keep on trying…

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