Mother gave Martina her approval, and offered disingenuous encouragement. “You will be living at home while you attend this place, yes?” she asked.
Martina said, “no. I’m going to live in an apartment. I want to experience real college life.” Mother, momentarily forgetting herself said, “to do that, you would have to go to a real college.”
Martina’s mother wasn’t the only one who could give icy cold stares. “It is a real college,” Martina said.
Mother quickly apologized and asked if she could help pack her belongings. “As long as you don’t try to tell me what I can and can’t take,” Martina said.
Mother asked if she had given any thought as to what classes she wanted to take. She seemed to soften a bit when Martina sat down and almost beaming, said, “anything. Everything. I want to know how it feels to sit in a big room, listening to a professor whose sole job is to teach us what the real world is like. I want to experience how it feels to be treated like an adult who could someday, possibly change the world. Do you know what I mean?”
Mother smiled and acquiesced. “No. I don’t know what you mean. All I’ve ever known, just as you, are governesses and etiquette and how to take my place in society.”
Martina asked, “did you ever think about what your life might have been like if you had gone to college instead of getting married, and just becoming a rich man’s wife?”
Mother surprised Martina when she said, “to tell you the truth, no. Being the wife of a successful man is very important, and your father has been very good to me. I have a wonderful life, and that is all I ever wanted for you.
“But,” said Martina. “Didn’t you ever want more?”
Mother smiled and said, “I don’t believe I’ve ever told anyone this, but when I was a little girl, I desperately wanted to be a prima ballerina assoluta.” Surprised, Martina asked, “what is that?” Mother said, “it’s a title awarded to the most notable female ballerinas. It’s a rare honor.”
Martina asked, “what happened?” Mother said, “I grew too tall.”
Martina said, “you can be too tall to be a ballerina?” Mother said, “yes. I was already 5′ 10″ when I was 14. My teacher said it would be difficult to find a male partner, who would have to be at least 6′ 3″, so I was cut from the class.” She looked at her feet and Martina saw a brief look of sadness when she said, “I still have my shoes…somewhere.”
Mother suddenly began to look a little more human to Martina. She had everything anyone could possibly want, but she once had a dream. A dream that was never realized, and if that dream left a hole inside her, she had filled it with money and social status, and patched it with acceptance.
To be continued___________