I am breathless. Beads of sweat roll from my forehead, to my temple, and down my jaw. It is the end of another crazy night. Dancing seven nights a week under hot lights isn’t as easy as I thought it would be; I'm exhausted. I don’t even bother washing off the make-up before I grab my bag and head home. I flip on the light to my living room and sink into my living room chair. I have time coming up and it would be perfect time for a vacation. Logging onto the computer, I search and finally decide on a location. Using my debit card, I purchase the tickets needed and begin to pack.
I am a lover of fairy tales of all sorts. Greek mythology has always held a special place in my heart so I had chosen to visit Greece. I feel a pang as I remember moments from my childhood with my father reading to me from a book of Greek myths. I shake my head, pushing the thought out, and head to bed.
A few days later I arrive in Greece. It is June 21st and not only is it the Summer Solstice, but also European Music Day. From what I researched before my travels, Greece celebrates with three days of music. I decided to stop in Athens for the live shows. After I drop my bags off at my hotel, I make my way outside. Men and women, both old and young, dance together in the streets. Off to my right, a stage is set up for the performers. Already, a woman is up there singing in such a sweet way that I feel a shiver create goose bumps along my arms.
“Try the lamb!” a voice to my left calls out in heavily accented English. I am hungry and gladly buy a skewer of the meat. I walk along eating and burning my lips with the grease.
Everyone around me is having fun. I watch the dancing with close attention. I love to dance, which is the reason I chose to be a showgirl. I take a deep breath and I try to dance the way the Greeks are. I am laughing and having a grand time. Back home in Vegas, there is so much pressure to be perfect for my job. Now however, I am in control. I can just dance freely and enjoy the music instead of dealing with the constant worry about how I look in the costumes that I have to wear back home. Here I am no longer required to wear a mask for anyone. I am free to be me.
A family is standing near by. I watch a little boy dance with his dog. It’s sweet and funny to observe. The white and brown spotted puppy jumps around the boy. It dances up on its hind legs and twirls in front of the boy in an almost ballet-like style. The barks of the dog are as joyous as the laughter is from the young boy. The mother watches and claps along to the music as she laughs and encourages the boy in their native tongue.
Suddenly, I am struck with the sadness that I have worked so hard to keep at bay but keeps creeping up. I think of my own family back home. I haven’t talked with them in a year. Not since I decided to become a showgirl.
“That is not an acceptable job for an 18 year old,” my mother shouted at me having found out what I decided to do.
I feel alone now, surrounded by the happiness of the celebrating people. The contrast between the others and myself is becoming more obvious. I find a seat alone and continue to take in everything. These people actually are happy, aren’t they? They can’t all be acting!
My throat suddenly tightens and becomes as dry as a desert. I became a showgirl because I love the showy costumes; I love the thrill of performing for people. It seemed like an adventure and an easy way to earn some cash.
“Go to college, make something of yourself,” my father begs me when he finds out what I want to do.
I ignored his wishes. I didn’t want my family to control me after so long so I’d packed and left, ignoring the hurt that was on their faces.
“Please don’t go Amy! You have to stay here with me. Mom and Dad are going to disown you if you leave.” My sister cried, pleading with me not to go. I turned a deaf ear to her.
Now, I wonder how my mother is. How is my dad's golfing? Is my kid sister okay after such a harsh way I had left? I have been so wrong with the negative attitude I’d expressed with my family.
Here I am, in a beautiful plaza, a gathering of people surrounds me, but I cannot feel their joy any longer. Leaving home caused me to lose my identity as it handed me a mask.
“Lose some weight Amy. You have to keep up your appearance!” The manager shouted at me watching a rehearsal.
Nighttime has fallen upon Greece and its celebration of music. I am still in the same seat thinking of my family and of my job. I stand up heading back to my hotel. I have been stubborn for a year, but I miss my family. I see the reality now instead of the once exciting, abstract life I had created for myself. I smile to myself and head up to my room. I have made up my mind to reconcile with my family, but I am nervous. What if they don’t forgive me? I sit on my bed taking a deep breath nervously. I want to take off the mask that I have hidden behind for a year and re-enter the simplicity of my former life. It will take teamwork for my family to forgive me, but it’s a chance I have to take. Slowly I pick up my hotel room phone and dial.
“Hello?”“Mom, it’s me,” I choke out, my throat dry with fear. “I am done with my adventures and I want to come home.”